Four green potatoes on a potato sack.

Green Potatoes & Potato Sprouts

Julie Weber Is This A Poison

Toxicity: None to moderate toxicity, depending on the amount ingested.

Expected symptoms: Symptoms are not common with small amounts. If someone eats large amounts of green potatoes or if the solanine content is high, it may cause a burning sensation in the mouth and upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

What to do: Swish water in the mouth and spit out several times. If this is a young child, wipe the mouth with a soft, wet cloth. After, give them a serving of water or milk to drink.

Quick Facts about green potatoes-sprouted Potatoes:

Sometimes callers ask the poison center, “Can you eat green potatoes or potatoes that have sprouted?”

The entire potato plant contains a natural toxin called solanine, with the highest amount found in its green parts: the leaves, flowers, green skin, and the sprouts or “eyes.” It is also present in the white part of the potato but at much lower amounts (not enough to cause problems when eaten). However, solanine forms when a potato is exposed to light, stored at low temperatures or is immature (not “ripe”). The best way on how to tell if a potato is bad is by how green the skin is or if there are green sprouts forming along the skin. Cooking the potato does not eliminate the solanine. By peeling the skin before cooking, you can reduce solanine in raw potatoes, especially if the potato skin is green. 

How to treat an exposure

If someone eats a small amount of a green potato or the “eyes,” symptoms are unlikely. It may irritate the mouth resulting in a bitter taste and possibly a burning sensation. If someone swallows a large amount, it can irritate the stomach. Causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and flushing. For most people, symptoms resolve on their own with no need to see a doctor or go to an emergency room. If symptoms do not improve and you are unable to stay hydrated with fluids, you may need medical attention. 

If you find your child eating the green skin or “eyes” from a potato or if you accidentally made a meal with green potatoes, don’t panic. For a child, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day, for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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