How to know if the potato is spoiled

In this brief article, we will discuss 5 ways to tell if the potato is spoiled. This article will also discuss the health consequences of eating a spoiled potato and the proper way of storing potatoes so that they can have a longer shelf life. 

How to know if the potato is spoiled?

If you want to determine if a potato is spoiled, you can look for the following five common signs:

  1. Wrinkles on the surface: When potatoes start spoiling, their skin becomes saggy and develops wrinkles. If you notice significant changes in the texture of the potato’s skin, it is a sign that it is old and should be discarded.
  1. Moldy smell: Spoiled potatoes harbor microorganisms on both the surface and inside, leading to a mold-like smell. Instead of the usual earthy aroma, a moldy smell indicates that the potato is spoiled and no longer safe to consume.

You should be very careful, especially if your potatoes are contaminated with molds, as they can produce dangerous mycotoxins that can make you very sick (1-3).

  1. Green spots: Green spots on a potato are a clear indicator of spoilage. These spots result from the buildup of toxins that cause a change in the potato’s color. Consumption of potatoes with green spots in large amounts can lead to nausea and vomiting, so it is best to avoid them ( 4-5).
  • Sprouting shoots: If you observe sprouting shoots on a potato, it is a sign that the potato is old and nearing spoilage. However, sprouts alone do not necessarily mean the potato is bad. 

Check for additional signs such as wrinkly skin and a foul odor. It is recommended to use the potato promptly if it appears fine except for the sprouts.

  • Leaking moisture: Spoiled potatoes can lose moisture and become excessively dry. If a potato appears shriveled or has signs of significant moisture loss, it is not suitable for consumption or cooking.

Remember to use these indicators collectively to assess the condition of a potato. If you notice multiple signs of spoilage, it is best to discard the potato to avoid any potential health risks.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled potatoes?

Yes, eating spoiled potatoes can be hazardous to your health. Eating them can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea (4-7). 

Harmful pathogens like Clostridium botulinum and Salmonella spp. can cause symptoms like botulism and salmonellosis respectively 6-7). 

Additionally, certain strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus can result in food poisoning (7-8). 

Spoiled potatoes that have turned green or sprouted may contain toxins like solanine and glycoalkaloids (4-5). Ingesting high amounts of these substances can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, and even neurological effects like confusion and paralysis.

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten spoiled potatoes?

If you have accidentally eaten a spoiled potato, it is  very important to take appropriate steps to ensure your health and well-being. 

Here, we summarize some suggestions on how to react if you have consumed a spoiled potato:

  1. Stay calm: Panicking will not help the situation, so try to remain composed.
  1. Evaluate your symptoms: Pay attention to any immediate symptoms you might be experiencing as described before. It is important to be aware of any changes in your body.
  1. Contact a healthcare professional: If you’re experiencing severe symptoms or if you have any concerns about your health, it is recommended to reach out to a healthcare professional. They can provide you with appropriate medical advice.
  1. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or clear broths, can help flush out toxins from your system and prevent dehydration (9).
  1. Avoid further consumption: Refrain from eating any more spoiled potatoes or any other potentially contaminated food. It’s essential to prevent further ingestion of harmful substances.
  1. Practice good food safety: Reflect on the incident and use it as a reminder to follow proper food safety practices in the future. Store and handle food properly according to the general hygiene rules (10).

What is the shelf life of potatoes?

The shelf life of potatoes can vary depending on the type of potato and how they are stored (11). Here, we provide some general guidelines for different types of potatoes:

  • Russet Potatoes: Russet potatoes, commonly used for baking, have a relatively long shelf life. When stored in a cool, dark, and dry place (ideally around 45-50°F or 7-10°C), they can last for several weeks to a few months.
  • Red Potatoes: Red potatoes, often used for boiling, have a shorter shelf life compared to russet potatoes. They typically last for a few weeks to a couple of months when stored in the same conditions as russet potatoes.
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes: Yukon Gold potatoes, known for their buttery texture, have a shelf life similar to red potatoes. They can last for a few weeks to a couple of months when stored properly.

You should note that these are just general estimates, and individual potatoes may vary in their freshness and quality. 

Remember that you should always inspect your potatoes regardless of its type before using them.

Why should you keep potatoes away from sunlight?

Keeping potatoes away from sunlight is a great tip to slow the process of decomposing or spoilage. Plus, the green spots on potatoes get accelerated when they are put in sunlight. This means that harmful toxins start to build up leading to spoiled vegetables.

Keeping potatoes in a dark room will also ensure that they don’t sprout too fast. If you have a dry closet that will keep all the light and heat away then place your potatoes in a plastic bag and put them in that closet. 

How to properly handle potatoes to avoid spoilage?

Depending on how long you plan to keep the potatoes and when you will be needing them, you can use any one way to store your potatoes as follow: 

  • Potatoes go in the pantry: One of the easiest ways to store potatoes is at room temperature which will slow down the aging process. You can store them in a dry pantry that doesn’t have much light for about 5 weeks without worrying about them going bad. 

Even in dark and dry places such as the pantry, potatoes will need enough air to keep their skin fresh. This is why you should put them in aerated bags that don’t suffocate the skin of air. 

Don’t wash your potatoes, brush them off-dry to store them, or else moisture will cause them to go bad.

  • Freezing potatoes:Freezing potatoes is a beneficial way of increasing their shelf life without compromising on the freshness of the vegetable. 

To freeze them, cut potatoes into slices and lay them on a tray in such a way that they don’t touch each other. Put the tray in the freezer for long lasting fresh potato slices.


In this brief article, we discussed 5 ways to tell if the potato is spoiled. This article also discussed the health consequences of eating a spoiled potato and the proper way of storing potatoes so that they can have a longer shelf life. 


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