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Potatoes are used for a variety of purposes, and not only as a vegetable for cooking at home.

fact, it is likely that less than 50 percent of potatoes grown worldwide are consumed fresh. The
rest are processed into potato food products and food ingredients; fed to cattle, pigs, and
chickens; processed into starch for industry; and re-used as seed tubers for growing the next
seasons potato crop.

Food Uses: Fresh, Frozen, Dehydrated

Fresh potatoes are baked, boiled, or fried and used in a staggering range of recipes: mashed
potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, potato salad and
potatoes au gratin, to name a few.
But global consumption of potato as food is shifting from fresh potatoes to added-value,
processed food products. One of the main items in that category is frozen potatoes, which
includes most of the french fries (chips in the UK) served in restaurants and fast-food chains
worldwide. The worlds appetite for factory-made french fries has been put at more than 7
million tons a year. Another processed product, the potato crisp (chips in the US) is the longstanding king of snack foods in many developed countries.
Dehydrated potato flakes are used in retail mashed potato products, as ingredients in snacks, and
even as food aid. Potato flour, another dehydrated product, is used by the food industry to bind
meat mixtures and thicken gravies and soups.
A fine, tasteless powder with excellent mouth-feel, potato starch provides higher viscosity than
wheat and maize starches, and delivers a more tasty product. It is used as a thickener for sauces
and stews, and as a binding agent in cake mixes, dough, biscuits, and ice-cream.
In eastern Europe and Scandinavia, crushed potatoes are heated to convert their starch to
fermentable sugars that are used in the distillation of alcoholic beverages, such as vodka and

Non-Food Uses: Glue, Animal Feed, and Fuel-Grade

Potato starch is widely used by the pharmaceutical, textile, wood, and paper industries as an
adhesive, binder, texture agent, and filler, and by oil drilling firms to wash boreholes. Potato
starch is a 100% biodegradable substitute for polystyrene and other plastics and used, for
example, in disposable plates, dishes, and knives.
Potato peel and other zero value wastes from potato processing are rich in starch that can be
liquefied and fermented to produce fuel-grade ethanol. A study in Canadas potato-growing
province of New Brunswick estimated that 44,000 tons of processing waste could produce 4-5
million liters of ethanol.

In the Russian Federation and other east European countries, as much as half of the potato
harvest is used as farm animal feed. Cattle can be fed up to 20 kg of raw potatoes a day, while
pigs fatten quickly on a daily diet of 6 kg of boiled potatoes. Chopped up and added to silage, the
tubers cook in the heat of fermentation.

Potato Starch
Potatoes have been used as a source of raw material for high-quality starch for over 150 years. In
addition to product quality, the consumption of fresh water and energy are now playing an ever
more important role in potato starch factories. For this reason, GEA Westfalia Separator Group
developed process lines which also convince users from these economic points of view.

Integrated process line for obtaining potato starch

Integrated process line from GEA Westfalia Separator Group for obtaining potato starch

Once the potatoes have been broken up and the sand removed, the fruit water is separated by a
decanter. The starch is then extracted followed by washing. The washing line consists of 3-phase
nozzle separators in three stages working on the counter-current principle, fresh water only
having to be supplied to the last stage. The separators separate the starch milk into the fractions

starch, fine fibers and water. In this process, use of 3-phase technology ensures a high starch
yield in top-class quality.

After the last washing stage, the starch arrives for dewatering via a buffer tank. The fine fibers
leave washing in the first stage for fine fiber screening. The washed and concentrated starch milk
is dewatered and then dried by decanters. The fine fibers and the pulp from the extraction screens
are dewatered by a decanter. The dewatered pulp can either be dried or extracted from the
process and used as a feed immediately downstream of the decanter.
About Potatoes

Whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often consider potatoes as comfort food. It is an
important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world. Potatoes are available
year-round as they are harvested somewhere every month of the year.
The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include
tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. They are the swollen portion of the underground
stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the
plant. If allowed to flower and fruit, the potato plant will bear an inedible fruit resembling a

Potatoes, baked
1.00 medium
(173.00 grams)
Calories: 161
GI: high


vitamin B631.7%



vitamin C22.1%



vitamin B315.2%


pantothenic acid13%

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Potatoes provides for each of the nutrients of
which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional
information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Potatoes can be found in the Food Rating
System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Potatoes, featuring
information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

How to Select and Store

Tips for Preparing and Cooking
How to Enjoy
Individual Concerns
Nutritional Profile

Health Benefits
Potatoes are a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of
greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats
such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked
potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and
a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant
protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Our food ranking system qualified potatoes as a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good
source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and
pantothenic acid.
Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these
important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as
unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.
Blood-Pressure Lowering Potential

UK scientists at the Institute for Food Research have identified blood pressure-lowering
compounds called kukoamines in potatoes. Previously only found in Lycium chinense, an exotic
herbal plant whose bark is used to make an infusion in Chinese herbal medicine, kukoamines
were found in potatoes using a new type of research called metabolomics.
Until now, when analyzing a plant's composition, scientists had to know what they were seeking
and could typically look for 30 or so known compounds. Now, metabolomic techniques enable
researchers to find the unexpected by analyzing the 100s or even 1000s of small molecules
produced by an organism.
"Potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years, and we thought traditional crops were
pretty well understood," said IFR food scientist Dr Fred Mellon, "but this surprise finding shows
that even the most familiar of foods might conceal a hoard of health-promoting chemicals."
Another good reason to center your diet around the World's Healthiest Foods!
In addition to potatoes, researchers looked at tomatoes since they belong to the same plant
familySolanaceaeas Lycium chinense. Metabolomic assays also detected kukoamine
compounds in tomatoes.

The IFR scientists found higher levels of kukoamines and related compounds than some of the
other compounds in potatoes that have a long history of scientific investigation. However,
because they were previously only noted in Lycium chinense, kukoamines have been little
studied. Researchers are now determining their stability during cooking and dose response (how
much of these compounds are needed to impact health).
Vitamin B6Building Your Cells

If only for its high concentration of vitamin B61 medium potato contains over one-half of a
milligram of this important nutrientthe potato earns high marks as a health-promoting food.
Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions. Enzymes are proteins that help
chemical reactions take place, so vitamin B6 is active virtually everywhere in the body. Many of
the building blocks of protein, amino acids, require B6 for their synthesis, as do the nucleic acids
used in the creation of our DNA. Because amino and nucleic acids are such critical parts of new
cell formation, vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of virtually all new cells in the body.
Heme (the protein center of our red blood cells) and phospholipids (cell membrane components
that enable messaging between cells) also depend on vitamin B6 for their creation.
Vitamin B6Brain Cell and Nervous System Activity

Vitamin B6 plays numerous roles in our nervous system, many of which involve neurological
(brain cell) activity. B6 is necessary for the creation of amines, a type of messaging molecule or
neurotransmitter that the nervous system relies on to transmit messages from one nerve to the
next. Some of the amine-derived neurotransmitters that require vitamin B6 for their production
are serotonin, a lack of which is linked to depression; melatonin, the hormone needed for a good
night's sleep; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that help us respond to stress; and
GABA, which is needed for normal brain function.
Vitamin B6Cardiovascular Protection

Vitamin B6 plays another critically important role in methylation, a chemical process in which
methyl groups are transferred from one molecule to another. Many essential chemical events in
the body are made possible by methylation, for example, genes can be switched on and turned
off in this way. This is particularly important in cancer prevention since one of the genes that can
be switched on and off is the tumor suppressor gene, p53. Another way that methylation helps
prevent cancer is by attaching methyl groups to toxic substances to make them less toxic and
encourage their elimination from the body.
Methylation is also important to cardiovascular health. Methylation changes a potentially
dangerous molecule called homocysteine into other, benign substances. Since homocysteine can
directly damage blood vessel walls greatly increasing the progression of atherosclerosis, high
homocysteine levels are associated with a significantly increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Eating foods rich in vitamin B6 can help keep homocysteine levels low. In addition, diets high in
vitamin B6-rich foods are associated with overall lower rates of heart disease, even when

homocysteine levels are normal, most likely because of all the other beneficial activities of this
energetic B vitamin.
A single baked potato will also provide you with over 3 grams of fiber, but remember the fiber in
potatoes is mostly in their skin. If you want the cholesterol-lowering, colon cancer preventing,
and bowel supportive effects of fiber, be sure to eat the potato's flavorful skin as well as its
creamy center.
Vitamin B6Athletic Performance

Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, the form in which sugar is stored in
our muscle cells and liver, so this vitamin is a key player in athletic performance and endurance.

Whether it is mashed, baked or made into French fries, many people often think of the potato as
a comfort food. This sentiment probably inspired the potato's scientific name, Solanum
tuberosum, since solanum is derived from a Latin word meaning "soothing". The potato's name
also reflects that it belongs to the Solanaceae family whose other members include tomatoes,
eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos.
There are about about 100 varieties of edible potatoes. They range in size, shape, color, starch
content and flavor. They are often classified as either mature potatoes (the large potatoes that we
are generally familiar with) and new potatoes (those that are harvested before maturity and are of
a much smaller size). Some of the popular varieties of mature potatoes include the Russet
Burbank, the White Rose and the Katahdin, while the Red LeSoda and Red Pontiac are two types
of new potatoes. There are also delicate fingerling varieties available which, as their name
suggests, are finger-shaped.
The skin of potatoes is generally brown, red or yellow, and may be smooth or rough, while the
flesh is yellow or white. There are also other varieties available that feature purple-grey skin and
a beautiful deep violet flesh.
As potatoes have a neutral starchy flavor, they serve as a good complement to many meals. Their
texture varies slightly depending upon their preparation, but it can be generally described as rich
and creamy.

Potatoes originated in the Andean mountain region of South America. Researchers estimate that
potatoes have been cultivated by the Indians living in these areas for between 4,000 and 7,000
years. Unlike many other foods, potatoes were able to be grown at the high altitudes typical of
this area and therefore became a staple food for these hardy people.

Potatoes were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers who "discovered" them in South America
in the early 16th century. Since potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, they were subsequently
used on Spanish ships to prevent scurvy. They were introduced into Europe via Spain, and while
they were consumed by some people in Italy and Germany, they were not widely consumed
throughout Europe, even though many governments actively promoted this nutritious foodstuff
that was relatively inexpensive to produce. The reason for this is that since people knew that the
potato is related to the nightshade family, many felt that it was poisonous like some other
members of this family. In addition, many judged potatoes with suspicion since they were not
mentioned in the Bible. In fact, potatoes initially had such a poor reputation in Europe that many
people thought eating them would cause leprosy.
Some of the credit for the rise in potatoes' popularity is given to two individuals who creatively
engineered plans to create demand for the potato. In the 18th century, a French agronomist
named Parmentier created a scheme whereby peasants could "steal" potatoes from the King's
"guarded" gardens. He also developed and popularized the mashed potato that became popular
probably because he made this suspicious vegetable unrecognizable. Another person who was
instrumental to the acceptance of potatoes was Count Rumford. A member of the British
scientific group, the Royal Society, Rumford created a mush soup made of potatoes, barley, peas
and vinegar, which the German peasants adopted as a satisfying and inexpensive dish.
It is thought that the potato was first brought to the United States in the early 18th century by
Irish immigrants who settled in New England. People in this country were slow to adopt the
"Irish potato" and large scale cultivation of potatoes did not occur in the U.S. until the 19th
There are not that many foods that can claim that a pivotal historical event centered around them.
But the potato can. By the early 19th century, potatoes were being grown extensively throughout
Northern Europe, and potatoes were almost solely relied upon as a foodstuff in Ireland owing to
this vegetable's inexpensive production and the poor economy of this country. Yet, in 1845 and
1846, a blight ruined most of the potato crop in Ireland and caused major devastation: this event
is known as the Irish Potato Famine. Almost three-quarters of a million people died, and
hundreds of thousands emigrated to other countries, including the United States, in search of
Today, this once-infamous vegetable is one of the most popular throughout the world and the one
that Americans consume more of pound for pound than any other. Currently, the main producers
of potatoes include the Russian Federation, Poland, India, China and the United States.

How to Select and Store

While potatoes are often conveniently packaged in a plastic bag, it is usually better to buy them
individually from a bulk display. Not only will this allow you to better inspect the potatoes for
signs of decay or damage, but many times, the plastic bags are not perforated and cause a build
up of moisture that can negatively affect the potatoes.

Potatoes should be firm, well shaped and relatively smooth, and should be free of decay that
often manifests as wet or dry rot. In addition, they should not be sprouting or have green
coloration since this indicates that they may contain the toxic alkaloid solanine that has been
found to not only impart an undesirable taste, but can also cause a host of different health
conditions such as circulatory and respiratory depression, headaches and diarrhea.
Sometimes stores will offer already cleaned potatoes. These should be avoided since when their
protective coating is removed by washing, potatoes are more vulnerable to bacteria. In addition,
already cleaned potatoes are also more expensive, and since you will have to wash them again
before cooking, you will be paying an unnecessary additional cost.
Since new potatoes are harvested before they are fully mature, they are much more susceptible to
damage. Be especially careful when purchasing these to buy ones that are free from discoloration
and injury.
The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45F to 50F (between 7-10C) as
higher temperatures, even room temperature, will cause the potatoes to sprout and dehydrate
prematurely. While most people do not have root cellars that provide this type of environment, to
maximize the potato's quality and storage, you should aim to find a place as close as possible to
these conditions. Storing them in a cool, dark closet or basement may be suitable alternatives.
Potatoes should definitely not be exposed to sunlight as this can cause the development of the
toxic alkaloid solanine to form.
Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving
them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they
each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be
kept in a burlap or paper bag.
Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months. Check on the potatoes frequently,
removing any that have sprouted or shriveled as spoiled ones can quickly affect the quality of the
others. New potatoes are much more perishable and will only keep for one week.
Cooked potatoes will keep fresh in the refrigerator for several days. Potatoes do not freeze well.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Potatoes

The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from
this vegetable, don't peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under
cold running water right before cooking and then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring
knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, only removing a thin layer of
the skin and therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below the skin.
Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that
occurs with exposure to air. If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a

bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice, as this will prevent their
flesh from darkening and will also help to maintain their shape during cooking. As potatoes are
also sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor, avoid cooking them in iron or
aluminum pots or using a carbon steel knife to cut them.

How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas

Pure roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed
potatoes. Season to taste.
Potatoes are a featured ingredient in the classic dish, Salad Nicoise, that pairs new potatoes
with chunks of tuna fish and steamed green beans dressed lightly with oil and vinegar.
Toss steamed, diced potato with olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Individual Concerns
Potatoes and Pesticide Residues

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with
the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though
pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well
documented. The liver's ability to process other toxins, the cells' ability to produce energy, and
the nerves' ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to
the Environmental Working Group's 2014 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," conventionally
grown potatoes are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been
most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks
may want to avoid consumption of potatoes unless they are grown organically.
Potatoes Belong to the Nightshade Family
Potatoes are one of the vegetables in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which includes eggplant,
tomatoes and bell peppers. Anecdotal case histories link improvement in arthritis symptoms with
removal of these foods;however, no case-controlled scientific studies confirm these observations. For
more on nightshades, please see our article "What are nightshades and in which foods are they found?"
Processed Potato Products and Acrylamides

Regularly cooked potatoes are not a concern when it comes to acrylamide, a potentially toxic and
potentially cancer-causing substance. Yet, fried, processed foods made with potatoessuch as
potato chips and french friesare considered among the highest risk of foods when it comes to
acrylamide exposure. This is yet another reason to avoid or minimize your intake of these foods.
For more on acrylamides, see our detailed write-up on the subject.

Nutritional Profile
Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin
C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Potato.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Potatoes is
also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates,
sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories
they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are
especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is
either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these
qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't
contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to
meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens
of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the
chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find
the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This
serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found
in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find
the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient
density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system.
For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found
in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more
background information and details of our rating system.
Potatoes, baked
1.00 medium
173.00 grams
Calories: 161
GI: high




World's Healthiest



Foods Rating

vitamin B6

0.54 mg



very good


925.55 mg





0.20 mg




vitamin C

16.61 mg





0.38 mg





121.10 mg




vitamin B3

2.44 mg




3.81 g




0.65 mg




pantothenic acid
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating



DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%

very good

DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%


DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Potatoes


Agricultural Research Service. "Phytochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits,".

,"Agricultural Research, September 2007. 2007.
Breithaupt DE, Bamedi A. Carotenoids and carotenoid esters in potatoes (Solanum tuberosum
L.): new insights into an ancient vegetable. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Nov 20;50(24):7175-81.
Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus
Press, Clovis, California. 1983.
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis,
California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.

Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.
Liu YW, Han CH, Lee MH et al. Patatin, the Tuber Storage Protein of Potato (Solanum tuberosum
L.), Exhibits Antioxidant Activity in Vitro. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jul 16;51(15):4389-93. 2003.
Parr A, Mellon F, Colquhoun I, Davies H. Dihydrocaffeoyl Polyamines (Kukoamine and Allies) in
Potato (Solanum tuberosum) Tubers Detected during Metabolite Profiling. J Agric. Food Chem,
53 (13), 5461 -5466, 2005. 2005.
Tudela JA, Cantos E, Espin JC et al. Induction of antioxidant flavonol biosynthesis in fresh-cut
potatoes. Effect of domestic cooking. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Oct 9;50(21):5925-31. 2002.
Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988.

Potato chips are thin slices of potato, fried quickly in oil and then salted.
According to snack food folklore, the potato chip was invented in 1853 by a chef named George
Crum at a restaurant called Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Spring, New York. Angered when a
customer, some sources say it was none other than Cornelius Vanderbilt, returned his french
fried potatoes to the kitchen for being too thick, Crum sarcastically shaved them paper thin and
sent the plate back out. The customer, whoever he was, and others around him, loved the thin
potatoes. Crum soon opened his own restaurant across the lake and his policy of not taking
reservations did not keep the customers from standing in line to taste his potato chips.
The popularity of potato chips quickly spread across the country, particularly in speakeasies,
spawning a flurry of home-based companies. Van de Camp's Saratoga Chips opened in Los
Angeles on January 6, 1915. In 1921, Earl Wise, a grocer, was stuck with an overstock of
potatoes. He peeled them, sliced them with a cabbage cutter and then fried them according to his
mother's recipe and packaged them in brown paper bags. Leonard Japp and George Gavora
started Jays Foods in the early 1920s, selling potato chips, nuts, and pretzels to speakeasies from
the back of a dilapidated truck.
The chips were commonly prepared in someone's kitchen and then delivered immediately to
stores and restaurants, or sold on the street. Shelf-life was virtually nil. Two innovations paved
the way for mass production. In 1925, the automatic potato-peeling machine was invented. A
year later, several employees at Laura Scudder's potato chip company ironed sheets of waxed
paper into bags. The chips were hand-packed into the bags, which were then ironed shut.
Potato chips received a further boost when the U.S. government declared them an essential food
in 1942, allowing factories to remain open during World War II. In many cases, potato chips
were the only ready-to-eat vegetables available. After the war, it was commonplace to serve
chips with dips; French onion soup mix stirred into sour cream was a perennial favorite.
Television also contributed to the chip's popularity as Americans brought snacks with them when
they settled before their television sets each night.
In 1969, General Mills and Proctor & Gamble introduced fabricated potato chips, Chipos and
Pringles, respectively. They were made from potatoes that had been cooked, mashed,

dehydrated, reconstituted into dough, and cut into uniform pieces. They further differed from
previous chips in that they were packaged into breakproof, oxygen-free canisters. The Potato
Chip Institute (now the Snack Food Association) filed suit to prevent General Mills and Proctor
& Gamble from calling their products chips. Although the suit was dismissed, the USDA did
stipulate that the new variety must be labeled as "potato chips made from dried potatoes."
Although still on the market, fabricated chips have never achieved the popularity of the original.
Today, potato chips are the most popular snack in the United States. According to the Snack
Food Association, potato chips constitute 40% of snack food consumption, beating out pretzels
and popcorn in spite of the fact that hardly anyone thinks potato chips are nutritious.
Nonetheless, the major challenge faced by manufacturers in the 1990s was to develop a tasty
low-fat potato chip.

Raw Materials
Even though Earl Wise started his business with old potatoes, today's product is made from
farm-fresh potatoes delivered daily to manufacturing plants. The sources vary from season to
season. In April and May, potatoes come from Florida; June, July and August bring potatoes
from North Carolina and Virginia; in the autumn months, the Dakotas supply the majority of
potatoes; during the winter, potato chip manufacturers depend on their stored supplies of
potatoes. Stored potatoes are kept at a constant temperature, between 40-45F (4.4-7.2C), until
several weeks before they are to be used. They are then moved to a reconditioning room that is
heated to 70-75F (21.1-23.9C). Size and type are important in potato selection. White potatoes
that are larger than a golf ball, but smaller than a baseball, are the best. It takes 100 lb (45.4 kg)
of raw potatoes to produce 25 lb (11.3 kg) of chips.
The potatoes are fried in either corn oil, cottonseed oil, or a blend of vegetable oils. An
antioxidizing agent is added to the oil to prevent rancidity. To further insure purification, the oil
is passed through a filtration system daily. Salt and other flavoring ingredients, such as powdered
sour cream and onion and barbecue flavor, are purchased from outside sources. Flake salt is used
rather than crystal salt. Some manufacturers treat the potatoes with chemicals such as phosphoric
acid, citric acid, hydrochloric acid, or calcium chloride to reduce the sugar level, and thus
improve the product's color. The bags are designed and printed by the individual potato chip
manufacturer. They are stored on rolls and brought to the assembly line as necessary.

The Manufacturing

1 When the potatoes arrive at the plant, they are examined and tasted for quality. A half dozen
or so buckets are randomly filled. Some are punched with holes in their cores so that they can
be tracked through the cooking process. The potatoes are examined for green edges and
blemishes. The pile of defective potatoes is weighed; if the weight exceeds a company's preset
allowance, the entire truckload can be rejected.
2 The potatoes move along a conveyer belt to the various stages of manufacturing. The
conveyer belts are powered by gentle vibrations to keep breakage to a minimum.

Destoning and peeling

3 The potatoes are loaded into a vertical helical screw conveyer which allows stones to fall to
the bottom and pushes the potatoes up to a conveyer belt to the automatic peeling machine.
After they have been peeled, the potatoes are washed with cold water.


4 The potatoes pass through a revolving impaler/presser that cuts them into paper-thin slices,
between 0.066-0.072 in (1.7-1.85 mm) in thickness. Straight blades produce regular chips while
rippled blades produce ridged potato chips.
5 The slices fall into a second cold-water wash that removes the starch released when the
potatoes are cut. Some manufacturers, who market their chips as natural, do not wash the
starch off the potatoes.

Color treatment

6 If the potatoes need to be chemically treated to enhance their color, it is done at this stage.
The potato slices are immersed in a solution that has been adjusted for pH, hardness, and
mineral content.

Frying and salting

7 The slices pass under air jets that remove excess water as they flow into 40-75 ft (12.2-23 m)
troughs filled with oil. The oil temperature is kept at 350-375F (176.6-190.5C). Paddles gently
push the slices along. As the slices tumble, salt is sprinkled from receptacles positioned above
the trough at the rate of about 1.75 lb (0.79 kg) of salt to each 100 lb (45.4 kg) of chips.

Potatoes arrive daily at manufacturing plants. After they are checked for quality, they are stored
at a constant temperature unfil they are processed into potato chips. Some manufacturers treat
the potatoes with chemicals to improve the color of the final product. To make the chips,
potatoes are fried in either corn oil, cottonseed oil, or a blend of vegetable oils. Flake salt rather
than crystal salt is used to season the chips.

8 Potato chips that are to be flavored pass through a drum filled with the desired powdered

Cooling and sorting

9 At the end of the trough, a wire mesh belt pulls out the hot chips. As the chips move along the
mesh conveyer belt, excess oil is drained off and the chips begin to cool. They then move under
an optical sorter that picks out any burnt slices and removes them with puffs of air.


10 The chips are conveyed to a packaging machine with a scale. As the pre-set weight of chips is
measured, a metal detector checks the chips once more for any foreign matter such as metal
pieces that could have come with the potatoes or been picked up in the frying process.

11 The bags flow down from a roll. A central processing unit (CPU) code on the bag tells the
machine how many chips should be released into the bag. As the bag forms, (heat seals the top
of the filled bag and seals the bottom of the next bag simultaneously) gates open and allow the
proper amount of chips to fall into the bag.
12 The filling process must be accomplished without letting an overabundance of air into the
bag, while also preventing the chips from breaking. Many manufacturers use nitrogen to fill the
space in the bags. The sealed bags are conveyed to a collator and hand-packed into cartons.
13 Some companies pack potato chips in I O cans of various sizes. The chips flow down a chute
into the cans. Workers weigh each can, make any necessary adjustments, and attach a top to
the can.

Quality Control
Taste samples are made from each batch throughout the manufacturing process, usually at a rate
of once per hour. The tasters check the chips for salt, seasoning, moisture, color, and overall
flavor. Color is compared to charts that show acceptable chip colors.
Preventing breakage is a primary goal for potato chip manufacturers. Companies have installed
safeguards at various points in the manufacturing process to decrease the chances for breakage.
The heights that chips fall from conveyer belts to fryers have been decreased. Plastic conveyer
belts have been replaced with wide mesh stainless steel belts. These allow only the larger chips
to travel to the fryers and the smaller potato slivers to fall through the mesh.

Rejected potatoes and peelings are sent to farms to be used as animal feed. The starch that is
removed in the rinsing process is sold to a starch processor.

The Future
Potato chips show no sign of declining in popularity. However, the public's increased demand for
low-fat foods has put manufacturers on a fast track to produce a reduced-calorie chip that pleases
the palate as well. In the late 1990s, Proctor and Gamble introduced olestra, a fat substitute that
was being test-marketed in a variety of products, including potato chips.
Food technicians are using computer programs to design a crunchier chip. Upper- and lowerwave forms are fed into the computer at varying amplitudes, frequencies, and phases. The
computer then spits out the corresponding models. Researchers are also working on genetically
engineered potatoes with less sugar content since it is the sugar that produces brown spots on
Potato flour production
(Kartoffelmel produktion)


Potato flour is produced is from potatoes. The product is composed of potato starch and water and is also referred to
as potato starch.

Process description
The present data refer to potato flour production in Karup Kartoffelmelfabrik. The main
processes are following: 1) potatoes from local farmers are transported to the factory by
trucks, 2) the potatoes are washed and rasped into fine particles in a rotating grater, 3)
fruit juice and solid matter are separated into two streams in a rotating decanter, 4) fresh
water is added to the stream of solid matter and pulp is separated from the starch by
centrifugation 5) starch is refined in hydro cyclones and vacuum filters, 6) the concentrated
slurry is dried in a warm air stream until a final water content of 20% 7) the starch is stored
and packed for final distribution to the market and sold as potato flour or potato starch.
Pulp is used for animal feed. Washing water and fruit juice is distributed on farmland where
it displaces artificial fertilizer according to specific nutrient contents (see below).
Transportation of potatoes from field to factory (average 30 km) is performed by trucks
(about 70%) and tractors (about 30%). Pulp is transported by trucks (average 25 km).
Washing water and fruit juice is distributed on 200 respectively 7500 ha farmland through a
network of pipelines. Soil and stones washed off the potatoes is returned to farmland.
Nutrient content of washing water: N: 130 g/m 3, P: 29 g/m3 and K: 250 g/m3
Nutrient content of fruit juice: N: 1.4 kg/m3, P: 0.16 kg/m3, K: 1.8 kg/m3 and Mg: 0.10
Composition of pulp: 14% dry matter of which 10% is protein.

Data collection and treatment

Data have been derived from Karup Kartoffelmelfabriks green account (2002/2003) and
from the factory's homepage.

Technical scope
All production processes as well as administration and product storage are included.
Packaging and a number of chemicals have been ignored. Transportation processes to and
from the factory have not been included.

The considered factory is the largest producer of potato flour in Denmark with a market
share of about 35%. Some factories refine protein from fruit juice. This has not been
considered here.


Data from Karup Kartoffelmelfabrik's have been compared with data from Ecoinvent
database. Some differences in potato consumption, energy and water consumption per ton
of product have been observed but data are generally in the same order of magnitude.
Inputs and outputs
Inputs and outputs associated with potato flour production are shown in the table below.
Data are provided per ton of potato flour (80% potato starch and 20% water) at the gate of
the factory.


Natural gas (heating)
Sulphuric acid

Outputs Potato flour

Potato pulp
Fruit juice
Washing water





1) dirty potatoes directly from the field. Quantity of clean potatoes is 4.4 ton/kg potato flour
Location in database: Material/Food from indudtry/from other industries/Potato starch / potato flour

Karup Kartoffelmelsfabrik's green accounts (2002/2003).
Administrative information
Data URL: http://www.lcafood.dk/processes/industry/potatoflourproduction.htm
Version no.: 1.00
Author: Per H. Nielsen, The Institute for Product development.
Data entry: data have been entered in this format by Per H. Nielsen.
Data completed: February 2004.

Potato may help feed Ethiopia in era of climate change

Blaine Friedlander

Semagn-Asredie Kolech, left-center, doctoral candidate in horticulture, poses with a group of
Ethiopian farmers after surveying their practices.
With unpredictable annual rainfall and drought once every five years, climate change presents
challenges to feeding Ethiopia. Adapting to a warming world, the potato is becoming a more
important crop there with the potential to feed much of Africa.
Semagn-Asredie Kolech, a Cornell doctoral candidate in the field of horticulture, studies the
potato and bridges the tradition of Ethiopian farming with the modernity of agricultural science.
He shuttles between Ethiopia and Ithaca to examine and research efficient agricultural practices
in the shadow of climate change. The potato is a good strategy crop for global warming. It has a
short growing season, it offers higher yields, its less susceptible to hail damage, and you can
grow 40 tons per hectare. With wheat and corn, you dont get more than 10 tons a hectare,
Kolech says.
Ethiopia sits on the brink of thriving financial and gross domestic product forecasts, as its
government formally merges green economics with climate-change resilient policies. But the
countrys agricultural economy suffers from poor cultivation practices and frequent drought.
However, new efforts including Kolechs research are beginning to fortify the countrys
agricultural resilience, reducing the threat of starvation and bringing on the rising possibility of
exporting potatoes to other African countries.
Annually, Ethiopian farmers plant potatoes in the spring and late summer. Yet, they still search
for optimum planting dates and vie for vibrant drought-tolerant varieties if planted in the shortrain season, and sidestepping late blight, if planted in the longer rainy season.
At an Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future forum in March, Kolech presented preliminary
research gathered last summer. He surveyed Ethiopian farmers in potato-growing regions to

understand their varietal inventory and crop practices. Farmers tried new varieties, but they often
reverted back to using their traditional cultivars, he said. For example, in the Shashemene district
(southern Ethiopia) about 47 percent of farmers used new varieties before 2012. That percentage
dropped to 17 percent willing to use new varieties in 2012. Further, he found that in the Yilmana
district, the use of new varieties dropped to 15 percent last season, down from 35 percent prior to
Kolech said that he found that the usage drop-off is due mostly to poor storage quality. New
varieties have good attributes, such as high yield and late blight resistance, but in northwestern
Ethiopia where more than 40 percent of potatoes are grown, the potato color and taste changes in
storage earlier than the local varieties.
To hedge bets on drought or late blight, Kolech found the farmers revert to traditional varieties in
the Shashemene district to alleviate food shortage. This summer, he will continue to survey
farmers and collect the local cultivars for genetic diversity analysis, and then test these varieties
for drought-stress tolerance.
In 1970 Ethiopian farmers planted less than 30,000 hectares of potatoes. Today, more than
160,000 hectares are planted. With a population of 93 million and a land size almost double that
of Texas, Ethiopia can accommodate growing 3 million hectares of potatoes, Kolech says.
The environmental and economic prospects for Ethiopia are so intriguing, this June five Cornell
faculty members David Wolfe, horticulture; Donald Halseth, horticulture; Walter DeJong,
plant breeding and genetics; Fouad Makki, development sociology; and Tammo Steenhuis,
biological and environmental engineering, will travel with Kolech to Ethiopia to meet with
potential government and nongovernmental collaborators. Their travel will be funded by
Cornells Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a collaborative CARE-Cornell Impact
through Innovation Fund.
The group will meet with officials from CARE; the U.S. Agency for International Development;
the Ethiopian Agriculture Research Institute and National Meteorology Authority; the Soil
Health and Fertility Management division at the Ethiopian Agriculture Transformation Agency;
the Blue Nile Water Institute; and researchers at Amhara Agriculture Research Institute.