Ever wonder how your potatoes can go so long without sprouting? The answer: Bud Nip, also known as, Chlorpropham.
Fresh potatoes are delicious and a good source of nutrients. However, if you have a potato sitting for too long they can form sprouts which can be toxic. This is due to their potentially high concentration of glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids can interfere with the nervous system's ability to regulate a chemical responsible for the conduction of nerve impulses, call Acetylcholine. If a potato is still firm and not discolored you can simply cut off the sprouts and go about eating it regularly. If the potato happens to be soft though, that means that the starches in the potato have converted into sugar and it shouldn't be eaten. Another sign a potato might contain glycoalkaloids is if it has turned green. This means that the potato was exposed to light for a prolonged amount of time and glycoalkaloid concentrations might have increased.
Chorpropham can be found in grass weeds, alfalfa, lima and snap beans, blueberries, cane berries, carrots,cranberries, ladino clover, garlic, seed grass, onions, spinach, sugar, beets, tomatoes, safflower, soybeans, gladioli, woody nursery stock, potatoes, and tobacco. Companies are now using Bud Nip or Chlorpropham to prolong the shelf life of their produce to prevent sprouting. Unfortunately there are consequences with this action.
In an assessment conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, studies using laboratory animals found that "chlorpropham generally has... low acute toxicity" and placed in Toxicity Category III. With that said, here are their findings:
"Chlorpropham is a mild eye and skin irritant, and is practically NON-TOXIC through dermal exposure."
However, a dermal study using rabbits show that they "produced skin irritation and blood cell changes." A study using beagle dogs "resulted in reduced body weight gain, anemia, and changes in thyroid function and structure." A rat feeding study also found "body weight gain...reduced", in addition to, "destruction and loss of red blood cells. A developmental study in rats found a "treatment related fetal effect-- an increased incident of rudimentary 14th rib." "A developmental study with rabbits resulted in increased embryo resporption and post-implantation loss." "A reproductive rat study affected growth and histopathological changes in the spleen, bone marrow, liver, and kidney." "Chlorpropham tested positive in two out of four mutagenicity studies."
Furthermore, the assessment also states on its fourth (4th) page that, "Although chlorpropham is classified as a group E chemical (evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans) according to the Agency's cancer classification guidelines, one of its metabolites, 3-chloroaniline, is structurally similar to a known carcinogen, 4-chloroaniline... Based on the structure of the compounds, the Agency believes that 3-chloroaniline is probably, at most, equally as potent... [as] 4-chloroaniline."
Above is a comparison of sweet potatoes with chlorpropham and without (organic). The results are pretty eye opening. We couldn't believe even after all those findings that this product was still approved for use and the produce it is used on is still approved for human consumption! The assessment concluded that chlorpropham "will not cause unreasonable risk to humans or the environment" because they do not have enough evidence to suggest that chlorpropham is harmful for human consumption. Does anyone find that as disturbing as I do? The animal studies have shown mutations and negative, beyond negative effects... but somehow this is acceptable for human consumption?
Yes, they originally used this as a solution to a problem, but I would much rather take the risk of having glycoalkaloid poisoning than risk mutations to my DNA or my children's DNA. At least you can clearly judge a good potato from a bad potato when it has sprouts on it!