Beware of health risks of ‘green’ potatoes

July 26th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 26 (IANS) Green potatoes potentially contain natural toxin glycoalkaloids that pose a public health risk, according to a study. But the good news is that the bad or green part can be cut away and discarded, to eliminate most of the Glycoalkaloids (GA) and risks.

Symptoms generally occur eight or 12 hours after ingestion and can include gastrointestinal disturbances and neurological disorders.

Mild symptoms include headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms can include restlessness, drowsiness and mental confusion, trembling and hallucination but because the symptoms are common to a whole host of other ailments, mistaken diagnoses can occur.

The study also suggests that GA levels in potatoes can be controlled effectively by adopting appropriate pre-harvest and post-harvest practices - and therefore farmers and producers can do much to reduce the public risks of GAs.

Some measures include keeping tubers well covered with soil during growth, allowing them to mature before harvesting, avoiding harvest at very high temperatures and minimising exposure to light.

GAs are a naturally occurring toxic substance in potatoes that have antimicrobial, insecticidal and fungicidal properties which probably evolved as a protective mechanism against invasion by foreign bodies to protect the plant against pests and disease.

The report appeared in the latest online issue of SCI’s Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (JSFA).

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