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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

FDA Poisonous Plant Database

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AUTHOR(S): Anonymous
TITLE: Solanine poisoning from potatoes.
YEAR: 1960 CITATION: Br Med J, 1(), 1264 [English]
FDA #: F20176
ABSTRACT: Article: Solanine is a glyco-alkaloid which is found in the blackcurrant-like fruits of black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) and the redcurrant-like fruits of bitter-sweet or woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara). But these are rarely eaten, and then only in ignorance of their poisonous nature. A more homely source of solanine is the common potato (solanum tuberosum), whose average content is 8 mg. per 100 g. The interior of the potato contains less than this, and too little to cause any toxic effects. The toxic dose is 20 to 25 mg. In recent outbreak of solanine poisoning reported by G. S. Wilson a hotel proprietor and his family of four ate potatoes baked in their jackets for supper on three successive Sunday evenings. All who ate the skins were ill on each occasion with vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. The symptoms were delayed some eight hours and recovery was complete in 24 hours. The hotel proprietor, who ate only the flesh of the potatoes each time, remained well. He suggested that dipping the potatoes in chemical solution to inhibit sprouting might have been responsible, but the substance now generally used for this prupose is not an acute irritant poison. There seems no doubt that solanine was the cause of the symptoms, for analysis showed that the potatoes contained 50 mg. of solanine per 100 g. This was twenty times as high as that found in potatoes purchased locally. Why solanine is sometimes formed in excess in potatoes is obscure, but it is known that those tissues whose metabolic activity is greatest contain most of it namely, the sprouts. Other outbreaks of potato poisoning have been reported, and are reviewed by Wilson. this type of poisoning is rare, and in the recorded outbreaks the potatoes responsible sometimes showed unusual features, such as a pink colour developing on the cut surface, or a brownish line near the surface, or they were sprouting or had an acrid taste. Exposure of potatoes to light favours the production of solanine, but ordinary storage does not increase the amount of it. In the present outbreak, however, the potatoes imported from Israel, had an exellent flavor and appearance despite their high solanine content. Solanine is soluble in water and diffused by boiling potatoes but not by baking them. As it is present in highest concentration immediately under the skin, it is not surprising that only those people who ate the skins were poisoned and that all guests at the hotel excaped because they were given only boiled peeled potatoes.
GRIN #: 103137 Exit Disclaimer
LATIN NAMESolanum tuberosum
STANDARD PLANT NAMESolanum tuberosum L.