You’ve been storing potatoes wrong all along, experts say as they allay cancer fears

By Daniel Jones, consumer affairs editor for The Mail On Sunday

Updated: 00:38 February 26, 2023

  • Putting potatoes in the fridge is not only fine, but actively encouraged
  • But experts say that both tomatoes and cucumbers should be stored outside the refrigerator

Experts have been warning us for years not to refrigerate potatoes, saying it poses a cancer risk.

But now they’ve changed their mind – they say it’s not only fine, but actively encouraged because it makes the spuds last longer and reduces waste.

Meanwhile, tomatoes and cucumbers — both currently in short supply in supermarkets — should be kept out of the fridge, scientists say.

It was previously thought that storing raw potatoes at low temperatures led to the formation of extra sugars, which turned into the carcinogenic acrylamide when fried, roasted or baked.

But now consumer group Which? has updated its advice in light of the latest Food Standards Agency research. Which? nutritionist Shefalee Loth said: ‘The advice on potatoes has changed.

Experts say that not only is it fine to keep potatoes in the fridge, but they are actively encouraged to do so as it makes the potatoes last longer and reduces waste.

“Experts now say keeping spuds in the fridge – previously considered a health risk – is a good way to get the most out of them, especially if you’re not going to use them right away.”

But she also advised that other food items don’t belong there.

“Not many people will realize that it can make bread stale and diminish the appeal of bananas or tomatoes,” she said. Cold temperatures change the texture of tomatoes and inhibit the enzymes that give them flavor, but two-thirds of those surveyed by Which? keep them in the fridge.

A refrigerator is also bad for cucumbers, which make them mushy, bananas, which turn black, and bread, which dries out. Loaves are best stored in a reusable cotton or plastic bag. Onions and garlic should be stored in a dark, dry cupboard. Every day, British households throw away 20 million slices of bread and 4.4 million potatoes. In total, 4.4 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, costing an average of £210 per person and having a major impact on the environment.

Tomatoes and cucumbers — both currently in short supply in supermarkets — should be kept out of the fridge, scientists say

There’s an art to stacking a refrigerator to reduce this. The top shelf is the hottest and best for ready meals such as cheese. Middle shelves are colder and good for eggs, milk and leftover food. The bottom shelf is the coldest, ideal for storing raw meat, poultry and fish.

Regular opening makes the door one of the hottest areas, so not suitable for milk and eggs.

Fruit and vegetables can be stored in the drawers at the bottom, but they should be kept separate because fruit produces a gas called ethylene that makes vegetables spoil more quickly.

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