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5 Foods That Can Turn Toxic When Refrigerated – and Can Kill You

by Thomasina Oseye
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5 Foods That Can Turn Toxic When Refrigerated - and Can Kill You

Refrigeration is a common practice to preserve the freshness and extend the shelf life of various food items. However, there are certain foods that can undergo chemical changes when refrigerated, potentially turning toxic and harmful to consume.

In this article, we will explore five such foods that should be handled with caution when it comes to refrigeration.

Learn about the risks of refrigerating garlic, onion, ginger, rice, and potatoes, and discover the proper storage methods to ensure their safety and enjoy them at their best quality.

1. Garlic

Garlic is a popular ingredient used in various cuisines around the world, known for its distinct flavor and numerous health benefits.

However, refrigerating garlic can cause it to become moldy and develop a potentially dangerous substance called botulinum toxin.

This toxin can lead to a serious condition known as botulism, which can result in muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, and even paralysis.

To prevent this, it is best to store garlic in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

2. Onion

Similar to garlic, onions are a staple ingredient in many dishes and possess several health benefits.

However, refrigerating onions can create a harmful environment for them, as the moisture inside the refrigerator can cause them to become soft and mushy.

Additionally, when onions are cut and stored in the refrigerator, they can release a gas called propanethial S-oxide, which can irritate the eyes and respiratory system.

It is advisable to store onions in a cool, dry place outside of the refrigerator.

3. Ginger

Ginger is a versatile root commonly used in cooking and known for its medicinal properties.

While refrigeration may seem like a good idea to prolong its shelf life, it can actually cause the ginger to lose its flavor and develop mold.

Moreover, refrigerated ginger can also become slimy and rot quickly. To keep ginger fresh, store it in a paper bag in a cool, dry place.

4. Rice

Rice is a staple food for many cultures and is often cooked in large quantities to be consumed over several meals.

However, refrigerating cooked rice can lead to the growth of Bacillus cereus bacteria, which can produce toxins that cause food poisoning.

These toxins are resistant to high temperatures and can survive even when the rice is reheated.

To prevent this, it is recommended to cool cooked rice quickly and store it in the refrigerator for no more than one day.

5. Potato

Potatoes are a versatile and widely consumed vegetable, enjoyed in various forms such as mashed, fried, or baked.

However, refrigerating raw potatoes can cause their starch content to convert into sugar at a faster rate, resulting in a sweet taste and potentially harmful chemical changes when cooked.

Additionally, storing raw potatoes in the refrigerator can also lead to the production of a harmful chemical called acrylamide when they are cooked at high temperatures.

It is best to store raw potatoes in a cool, dark place away from moisture.


While refrigeration is crucial for preserving the freshness of many foods, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with certain items.

Garlic, onion, ginger, rice, and potatoes are among the foods that can turn toxic or undergo chemical changes when refrigerated.

By understanding the proper storage methods for these foods, we can ensure their safety and enjoy their benefits without any harmful consequences to our health.

This article was updated 2 months ago


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