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Food Safety Focus (172nd Issue, November 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Is It Safe to Eat Sprouted Potatoes?

Recently, there have been some online discussion on whether sprouted potatoes can be eaten. In fact, it is unwise to put these sprouted tubers on your plates as they may contain high levels of glycoalkaloids.

Glycoalkaloids are naturally produced toxins occurring in all parts of a potato plant. While concentrated in flowers, sprouts and skins, their contents are much lower in tubers. Since glycoalkaloids are heat stable, they are not decomposed by cooking. Consuming food with high amounts of glycoalkaloids may cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea and diarrhea.

Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place to minimise glycoalkaloids formation. When buying potatoes, choose the intact ones without cuts, bruises or rotten parts. Prolonged storage should be avoided. Peel the skin and cut away the parts that show damage (e.g. cuts and bruises), rotting, green colouring and sprouting before cooking. When in doubt, discard the entire potato.