24 January 2022
Don't be foiled!
ANYONE wrapping baked potatoes in foil when they bake them should be sure to remove the foil as soon as they come out of the oven as it decreases the amount of oxygen the potato receives, which can lead to botulism.
FoodSafetyNews.com stresses that cooked potatoes are a Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) food, therefore must be stored with care. Foods in this category are prone to bacteria growth for several reasons: They are moist, contain protein and have a neutral or slightly acidic pH. This combination lends itself to the growth of micro organisms and the production of toxins.
The potato is at a dangerous temperature when it is between 5–57C. Food experts call this range the temperature danger zone because within these temperatures, it is easiest for bacteria to multiply to unsafe levels on your food.
Fortunately, baked potato botulism outbreaks are rare. Problems arise when potatoes (and other TCS foods) sit at room temperature for four hours and more. Food Safety News recommends eating baked potatoes within two hours or keeping them hot. However, this can lead to drying out or overcooking.
Foil should be removed straightaway, even if the potato goes directly from oven to fridge, as it will have to pass through the danger zone while it cools and that, coupled with a lack of oxygen caused by the foil, can create favourable conditions for botulism.
Botulinum bacteria need a low-oxygen environment to grow and thrive. When you wrap your potato in aluminium foil to bake, the potato is in a low-oxygen environment, hence why potatoes should be eaten while they’re hot, foil removed, and get any leftovers placed in the fridge as soon as they're cool.