Are soft potatoes safe to eat?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Are soft potatoes safe to eat?” Also, we’ll explore the reasons why potatoes go soft, how to tell if a potato has spoiled, what the dangers of eating spoiled potatoes are, and how to discard spoiled potatoes. 

Are soft potatoes safe to eat? 

No, it’s not advisable to eat soft potatoes. A lot of texture in potatoes is indicative of a breakdown in their starchy flesh, which means that the potato is undergoing chemical changes which often allude to spoilage.

As a result eating, spoiled potatoes may be detrimental to your health and that of those for whom you cook.

Soft potatoes may be edible, so long as they haven’t lost most of their texture and are only a little loose on the surface. Potatoes that have a third or more of their mass gone mushy, should be promptly discarded.

Why do potatoes go soft? 

Potatoes go soft because their components are undergoing breakdown processes that alter their molecule’s structure. 

Notably, an important component in potatoes is starch. Starch molecules are made up of long chains of glucose and when these chains are broken the composition of a potato’s flesh is altered, resulting in a soft, mushy texture. 

Starch can be hydrolyzed (broken down) by microorganisms that are finding nourishment in a potato’s starch, and this is followed by rotting. 

This process can occur in storage in a pantry, or even in the ground before potatoes are harvested. What it takes for potatoes to go mushy, is for a starch-feeding microorganism to be present. 

In harvested potatoes, most often this occurs due to poor handling. Potatoes may be injured and suffer scrapes or cuts that expose their starch to opportunistic microbes that’ll set in on the potato’s flesh and begin to fester, using the starch as sustenance. 

More specialized organisms, such as those that affect unharvested potatoes, can overcome the protective layer of the peel and begin to rot the starch within. 

How do I tell if a potato has spoiled?

Signs that a potato has spoiled include lesions on the surface, discoloring, a soft texture, and giving off a repulsive smell. 

However, not all potatoes spoil in the sense that they can rot. They may “spoil” if they pass their peak for consumption and begin to transition to a green color, or even have growth shoots springing out from their buds. 

A potato that has completely transitioned to green should be thrown out (or planted if that’s your predilection) as it’ll give rise to a new potato plant. 

Similarly, a potato with a sizable bud growing should also not be cooked, as it will have begun a biochemical transition that’ll begin to make use of the starch as an energy source, and concentrate solanine. 

What are the dangers of eating spoiled potatoes? 

Eating spoiled potatoes can trigger symptoms of food poisoning, which may be brought about for various reasons. 

They may be triggered by the pathogens that have set in the rotting potato, or by secondary metabolites with toxic effects (effectively: toxins) such as solanine.

Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal aches, muscle aches, dehydration, headaches, exhaustion, etc.  

Severe bouts of food poisoning by toxins can cause liver damage, which will require immediate medical attention, while severe dehydration may also require supplying electrolytes through intravenous solutions.  

We advise our readers to prioritize their health and overall wellbeing, by discarding potentially noxious foods, such as those that show signs of spoilage or transition into inedible phases. 

How should I dispose of spoiled potatoes? 

Spoiled potatoes should be disposed of in the garbage, using tight sealing bags and keeping them out of the reach of children or animals. A sanitation service will then collect them, and they’ll be taken to a landfill. 

Alternatively, you can incinerate the potatoes to destroy the microorganisms on their surface in the interior and keep them from contaminating other discarded foods in your trash. 

Rotten potatoes give off a particularly foul smell, due to the microbial activity they can sustain and the metabolites present in their flesh. 

We advise all our readers to properly dispose of all wasted food products to keep scavenging animals from looting them and possibly jeopardizing their health. 


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Are soft potatoes safe to eat?” Also, we’ve explored the reasons why potatoes go soft, how to tell if a potato has spoiled, what the dangers of eating spoiled potatoes are, and how to discard spoiled potatoes. 


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