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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

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Updated on 24/10/2016

Gathering and consuming wild mushrooms

Risk of poisoning due to the consumption of wild mushrooms

Keywords : Mushrooms

Every year, approximately one thousand cases of mushroom poisoning occur in France. The health consequences can be serious and sometimes fatal. Below are some recommendations for gathering mushrooms safely.

Gathering wild mushrooms is an activity which involves a certain amount of risk, as a number of species are inedible. Every year, approximately one thousand cases of mushroom poisoning occur in France. The impact on health of mushroom poisoning can be serious, and may include severe digestive disorders, kidney complications or liver damage which may require a transplant. Certain poisoning episodes may even be fatal. 

It is therefore essential to learn to recognise the different species of mushrooms. A life-saving reflex is to take a photo of the mushrooms you have picked before cooking them. If poisoning should occur, this simple gesture will help identify the mushrooms that have been eaten and can be of great help to a pharmacist or poison control centre doctor when deciding on the adequate treatment to administer.

 In any case, when picking wild mushrooms, it is important to keep the following recommendations in mind :

  • only gather mushrooms that you clearly recognise, and be aware that certain highly poisonous mushrooms closely resemble edible species;
  • if you have any doubts about the condition or identification of one of the mushrooms you have collected, make sure you have a mushroom specialist check your harvest before eating. Don't hesitate to contact a pharmacist or a mycology association or society in your region;
  • only pick mushrooms which are fresh and make sure you pick the entire mushroom (cap and stem) to facilitate identification;
  • avoid gathering mushrooms growing near polluted sites (roadsides, industrial areas, landfills), since mushrooms can accumulate pollutants;
  • place the mushrooms separately in a wooden crate or cardboard box, but never in a plastic bag, which can promote decay;
  • carefully separate harvested mushrooms according to species. Remember that pieces of poisonous mushrooms can be mixed in with pieces of edible varieties;
  • always wash your hands thoroughly after picking or handling the mushrooms;
  • store your mushrooms separately under suitable conditions in the refrigerator and consume them within no more than two days of picking;
  • cook mushrooms thoroughly and consume them in reasonable amounts, preferably spread out over time. Never eat wild mushrooms raw;
  • never feed wild mushrooms to young children.


Should one or more symptoms appear after eating mushrooms (nausea, vomiting, sweating, trembling, dizziness, vision problems, etc.), immediately call a poison control centre or the emergency medical services in your area (dial 15 in France).
Symptoms most often appear within 12 hours of consumption, but in certain cases poisoning may occur later.
It is useful to note the times of your last meals containing mushrooms and the time of onset of the first symptoms. Make sure to keep any leftover mushrooms to help with identification.