The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has issued a warning of the possible toxicity of potatoes with green sprouts or spots due to the presence of solanine. The OCU issued its warning based on the recent evaluation of the potential risk this toxin poses for consumers carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Solanine belongs to the glycoalkaloid family and is found naturally in the leaves, fruits, and tubers of plants in the Solanaceae family. The concentration of this toxic substance in potatoes depends to a large extent on their variety, as well as the way they are stored or age. For example, potatoes that are stored exposed to light can have up to five times more glycoalkaloids.
In humans, the acute toxic effects of ingesting potato glycoalkaloids can include gastrointestinal symptoms of varying severity, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The most vulnerable group is made up of infants and young children. Adults would have to eat very large amounts to reach dangerous levels.
How to reduce toxins in potatoes?
The OCU shared a series of practical advice to reduce the risk of possible poisoning when consuming potatoes.
First and most important: choose the right potatoes in the store. Don't pick any potatoes that have green spots or sprouts, as these are the areas where more solanine tends to accumulate. In addition, only buy the potatoes that you are going to consume in a week or two.
At home, the potatoes should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place, where they are not exposed to direct light. The fridge is not a good option because the cold causes them to spoil due to the appearance of sugars.