Potato Poisoning

An article by Eunice Roberts
Just a word of warning.
Never, EVER, eat potatoes that have any green bits in, at all, or that have the “eyes” that can be present, without cutting it all out. The potato plant is a member of the deadly nightshade family and although the tubers are usually perfectly safe to eat, in certain conditions they do generate an alkaloid called Solanine in those parts of the tuber that are green or around the sprouting areas which we usually call “eyes”. The results are severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, severe headaches, nausea & vomiting, dizziness
and in severe cases hallucinations and death. Often these symptoms are confused with gastroenteritis.
I have been growing potatoes and some of them have been very small but absolutely delicious just scrubbed and smothered in butter! The last batch had a lot of “eyes” but because they were too small to peel, I just scrubbed them as usual and tried to rub away some of the “eyes”. Also some of the larger ones had areas of green which I cut away but in some cases the green streaked towards the centre so I left it , thinking it wasn’t too much. Several days later, once my illness had started to abate, I decided to cut in half all the small potatoes that were left and found that quite a few of them were slightly green all the way through even though this greenness wasn’t visible on the outside of the skins. Incidentally the greenness is actually chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment present in all green leaves e.g. lettuce, cabbage etc and is NOT poisonous. However, in
potatoes the chlorophyll accelerates the production of Solanine which is the actual potato poison itself. This is, of course, one of the reasons why potatoes should always be stored in a dark place as chlorophyll only develops in sunlight.
Luckily I only had a very mild case that has lasted 5 days ( at the time of writing) and is very slowly working its way out of my bloodstream but a friend of mine had it many years ago and she was in a virtual coma for 5 days and was ill for 3 weeks.
Hope this doesn’t put you off eating potatoes. Personally I love them and will continue to eat them in spite of this very bad experience but always taking care from now on, with their preparation!