Research in Tasmania:

Green potatoes safe for consumers to eat

So many people are suspicious of any sign of a greenish colour on their potatoes. But now PhD candidate Sabine Tanios is working on research into why and how potatoes develop this green colouring.

Her work at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture looks at the wide range of factors that cause undesirable greening in potatoes, and at ways of reducing it.

"We've all heard that green potatoes are toxic," she said. "However, this is not true. When potatoes are exposed to light, they accumulate glycoalkaloids, which are known to be toxic compounds if they are consumed at high concentrations." But Tanios said this was not usually the case with green potatoes that were sometimes offered for sale. "Just peel away the green parts and you can eat them."

Miss Tanios's research looks at the causes of greening in potatoes in the field, as well as what affects the greening in retail stores. Elements in the research are the effects of nitrogen, the role of genetics and the impact of harvesting times on the greening of potatoes.

And she certainly gave readers food for thought: "Potatoes are the fourth-most important food crop worldwide. Greening is one of the major factors contributing to millions of dollars of losses every year, in every country."

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