Woman’s Mistake in Kitchen, Family Dies of Potato Poisoning: Fact Check

Picture Suggesting Entire Family Dies After Young Woman Makes a Simple Mistake in the Kitchen
Entire Family Dies After Young Woman Makes a Simple Mistake in the Kitchen


Entire Family Dies After Young Woman Makes a Simple Mistake in the Kitchen – Potato Poisoning!

8-year-old Maria Chelysheva in Russia became an orphan in 2014 because of a batch of old potatoes that her family had let rot in their cellar. When her father went into the basement to get some potatoes, he never came back. Maria’s mother then went into the basement to find him, but she never came back either.

The same thing happened to Maria’s brother, and then her grandmother. Maria’s grandmother had previously called a neighbor for help, but by the time the neighbor arrived, the woman had gone into the basement herself, and suffered the same terrible fate as the rest of the family, save for Maria

Other Versions

1. Girl, 8, orphaned after gas from rotting potatoes killed her entire family.

2. This Is Why You Should Be Especially Careful With Expired Potatoes.

Fact Check:

According to a story shared heavily online, an eight year old girl was Orphaned due to a simple mistake in the Kitchen – that her entire family died because of a batch of old potatoes that her family had let rot in their cellar. Yes, the said incident is unfortunately a fact.

The Potato Poisoning, Family Dies Incident

As reported by Daily Mail Online website dailymail.co.uk in September 2013 (not in 2014 like mentioned in story), an eight-year-old Russian girl Maria Chelysheva lost her father Mikhail Chelyshev (42), mother Anastasia (38), 18 year old brother Georgy and grandmother Iraida (68) – as they were all killed one by one after entering a cellar where they stored potatoes for the winter.

According to police, the girl’s father was the first person to enter the cellar. He did not realize the potatoes were seriously rotten, and died after fainting from the toxic potato fumes. When he did not return, his wife went to the cellar and she met with the same fate, followed by her son and mother. Before leaving to the cellar, the grandmother called a neighbor to say there was something suspicious and asked for help. Unfortunately, she too died like others before help arrived. When Maria Chelysheva entered the cellar, the poor girl found her entire family dead. The incident happened in a town called Laishevo in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. A local investigator of the incident said they all died of gas poisoning that accumulated in the basement as a result of badly rotten potatoes.

Toxic Compounds in Potatoes

Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as Glycoalkaloids, the most prevalent ones being Solanine and Chaconine. Prolonged exposure of potato tubers to light, physical damage and age results in the formation of green color (Chlorophyll) and increases the glycoalkaloid content. It’s one way of the plant’s defense system against insects, disease and other predators. The “greening” is considered to be an indication of increased levels of glycoalkaloids, high levels of which are toxic to humans. This is the reason why Green Potatoes are called poisonous, described in detailed in our article here, along with symptoms of poisoning and how to prevent it. While acute symptoms of glycoalkaloid poisoning include nausea, vomiting, stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, severe cases may be accompanied by a variety of neurological effects including coma and death sometimes.

Related Incidents

In early 2014, four Siberians were believed to have been killed by fumes of rotten potatoes when the group was put to work with spoiled tubers. Earlier also, there are some horrific tales of such Potatoes causing mass sickness and even deaths. In 1979 at a small boys’ school in South London, a bag of potatoes left in storage from the previous summer term caused 78 schoolboys and a handful of monitors to simultaneously fall ill. The boys ate boiled potatoes with a high concentration of the toxin, Solanine. Consequently, they suffered with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain. In severe cases, there was also depression of the central nervous system. You can read some such incidents in related article on Smithsonian website smithsonianmag.com.

So the lesson to learn, you should be especially careful with expired potatoes. Do not eat or store them for long in your vicinity.

Hoax or Fact:



Centre for Food Safety – Food Safety Focus – Toxic Glycoalkaloids in Potatoes
Potato: Toxicity

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Prashanth Damarla