Brown spots on potato crisps do not contain “throat mold”

Any particular bacteria or microorganism or type of mold such as “throat mold” does not exist


Claim: Manufactured potato crisps, which have dark-coloured spots and appear burnt, contain throat mold, which can be harmful.

Fact: There is no type of mold called “throat mold”. The darkened parts of potato crisps are caused by over frying. 

On 19 September 2022, a social media influencer with 74,900 followers on Instagram shared an image claiming that the darkened chips in any packet of manufactured potato crisps “is infected with throat mold,” which is unsafe to eat. 

Fact or Fiction?

Food Research International — an international academic journal that provides a forum for the rapid dissemination of significant research in food science, technology and engineering — published an academic research paper titled “Colour and image texture analysis in classification of commercial photo chips”.

The paper evaluates various colours and textural features of potato chips to determine public preferences. The researchers specify that the brown spots are caused by natural defects in the potatoes or injuries caused during transport and/or storage, while noting that these are undesirable for the customers. The paper mentions that the “brown spots are present due to the Maillard reaction.” The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction caused between amino acids and reducing sugars (molecular components of most food particles), which gives browned food a distinct flavor. This does not cause “throat mold”.

Fig 1. From the paper showing a gallery of potato chip images which marks the chips which look like those shown in the claim as “with natural defects”.

Soch Fact Check also reached out to a healthcare professional to confirm whether the brown spots on the potato crisps mean that they should be considered inedible.

Dr Mishgan Akhtar, who is a Health Literacy and Community Engagement Manager at a HealthTech venture called Khair, told us “Yes this is completely false. This isn’t any throat mold. The real issue here is the nutritional hazards of all these chips and junk, which include high carb high sodium and lower nutritional values.”


The Instagram post shared by the influencer received 13,971 interactions on Instagram and was shared with 73,301 followers on the platform.

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 24-day period since 19 September 2022 to 12 October 2022  using the following search terms:

  • “Chips” “throat mold”

We found posts on Facebook here, here, here, here, here and here, sharing a similar image and claiming that the commercially produced potato crisps with brown spots are inedible and should be kept away from children,

Conclusion: Commercially packaged chips with brown spots do not contain throat mold. The brown spots are caused by the Maillad reaction which may occur while frying or baking. 


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