Colorado woman ends up in ER after eating poisonous green potatoes

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DENVER (KDVR) – A Denver area woman is warning others after a serious health scare with potatoes.

On Sunday, Maria Harless says she was getting over a cold when she got a craving for comfort food.

“I just was craving warm mashed potatoes so I made them for myself,” she told FOX31. “Same way you’d have like a bowl of cereal, I just had to have a bowl of mashed potatoes.”

Harless says she went to bed with a full belly but soon woke up in agony.

“Just woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps,” she said.

Her symptoms were so bad, she ended up going to the emergency room the next day.

“I just couldn’t think of what it was except for maybe something I ate and that’s when I started to backtrack, what did I eat today? And then that little voice in my head heard my friend say don’t eat potatoes if they’re turning green,” Harless said.

She says the emergency room staff called poison control for possible solanine poisoning.

“Apparently if the potatoes are green or they have too many eyes on them, if you have enough of it, you can get sick from solanine poisoning,” Harless said.

According to Rocky Mountain Poison Control, solanine forms when potatoes are stored in a place with direct sunlight. The root vegetable begins the process of photosynthesis and begins to turn green. That’s when solanine is produced.

“People hallucinate. They become delirious. They go into comas,” Dr. Chris Hoyte, Medical Director for RMPC said. “People have vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea.”

Hoyte says solanine poisoning can be serious but cases are very rare.

“I wouldn’t eat a whole bag full in one sitting. I would probably not do that but for the vast majority of people, eating a green potato or even a green potato per day is unlikely to cause major toxicity,” he said.

Experts recommend cutting the green parts of potatoes away from the rest of the vegetable and throwing them away. Always remove the eyes of green potatoes too because they can contain higher concentrations of solanine.

“My advice would be to store them in a dark place like you’re supposed to because I left them out in the sunlight, which made them even greener. And peel the potatoes and if it’s green, just don’t even eat it. Just throw it away,” Harless said.

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