MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences

Re: Would you get sick if you ate a potato that had 'eyes'/sprouts

Date: Tue Nov 24 07:50:27 1998
Posted By: Don Schaffner, Faculty, Food Science, Rutgers University
Area of science: Agricultural Sciences
ID: 911339814.Ag

> Would you get sick if you ate a potato that had 'eyes'/sprouts

Good question! You are heading the right direction (with potatoes) but the food safety problem isn't the eyes!

The real concern with potatoes is the green color found just below the skin.

I found information on potato safety on the National Food Safety Database (

Here is what I found:


The green coloring sometimes found on whole potatoes is from chlorophyll and a compound called solanine. If consumed in large quantities, solanine can be toxic. It is concentrated in the skin and tissue just below the skin in potatoes that have been exposed to light, natural or artificial. To reduce the risk to toxicity reactions to solanine, remove the green portion and enough of the underlying potato so that no green portion remains. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry and dark area. Solanine is also found in the sprouts. It is not soluble in water or destroyed by heating.

This document is part of "The Notebook of Food and Food Safety Information," produced by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. It was originally produced in 1992 and was revised in 1997.

It was authored by Angela M. Fraser Ph.D., Food Safety Specialist and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., Department Extension Leader, Family and Consumer Sciences, Foods and Nutrition, Box 7605, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 27695-7605.


So go ahead and have some potatoes this Thanksgiving... just stay away from that green skin!

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