The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosum. The word “potato” may refer either to the plant itself or to the edible tuber. Whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often consider potatoes as comfort food. It is an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world. Potatoes are available year-round as they are harvested somewhere every month of the year.
But you may want to throw away your potatoes if you have kept them too long in the kitchen. Here is why!
Back in 2014, a Russian 8-year-old girl called Maria Chelyshevalost her family due to a batch of old potatoes that her family kept in the cellar and had let rot.
The disastrous consequences were caused by glycoalkaloid which is found in potatoes and makes them naturally toxic under certain circumstances.
Glycoalkaloids are a family of chemical compounds derived from alkaloids in which sugar groups are appended. There are several that are potentially toxic, most notably those which are the poisons commonly found in the plant species Solanum dulcamara (nightshade).
Her father went there to get some potatoes and did not return because he was poisoned the moment he went into the basement. After him his wife went to check why he was taking that much time and she also got poisoned. The same sad destiny happened to the small brother and to the grandmother.
Many plants in the potato family (Solanaceae) contain glycoalkaloids, and they are considered to be natural toxins. They are active as pesticides and fungicides and are produced by the plants as a natural defence against animals, insects and fungi that might attack them.
Glycoalkaloids are toxic to humans if consumed in high concentrations. Canadians are rarely exposed to levels of glycoalkaloids that cause serious health effects. However, there are occasional reports of short-term adverse symptoms, usually from eating potatoes that contain elevated concentrations of glycoalkaloids or from consuming a non-food plant in the Solanaceae family.