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.
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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
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.