Eating potatoes with sprouts can cause food poisoning

October 14, 2013

By Isaac Kim

Potatoes are a healthy food, with three times more vitamin C than apples. Even after being boiled, a potato retains three-quarters of its vitamin C. A person absorbs 67 percent of the vitamin when consuming potatoes.

However, potatoes can be harmful if they grow sprouts. This is because the alkaloid in potatoes contains a variety of substances, including nitrogen, nicotine, morphine and caffeine.


Eating potatoes with sprouts can cause food poisoning. (Korea Times File)

The average amount of alkaloid per kilogram is just below 20~100 milligrams, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But once a potato grows sprouts, the toxins increase tenfold – and regardless of whether the potato is cooked, the toxins remain. Eating potatoes with sprouts can cause food poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, vomit, stomachaches, and diarrhea.

According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), a restaurant in Taipei is being investigated for allegedly using potatoes with sprouts. The restaurant has stopped serving French fries.

Placing a few apples among stored potatoes helps prevent sprouts, because apples release a plant hormone called ethylene, which delays the sprouting, according to the MFDS. On average, one apple per 10 kilograms of potatoes helps prevent sprouts.