Warning over wild mushroom picking


THE DANGERS associated with eating wild mushrooms have been highlighted by the Food Safety Authority as the mushroom foraging season gets under way.

Foraging for food has become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to celebrity chefs endorsing the practice, but also because of the recession.

Some seven cases of food poisoning related to wild mushrooms have already been notified to the National Poisons Information Centre this year, while 22 were notified last year. There are 13 species of mushrooms growing here that are highly dangerous and can cause liver and kidney damage, and possibly death.

The most toxic native species include Amanita phalloides, also known as death cap; Amanita virosa, known as destroying angel; and Cortinarius speciosissimus, more commonly called web cap. A further 14 species can cause stomach upset.

The Food Safety Authority said people should not eat any part of a mushroom they have found in the wild, without first consulting with an expert mushroom forager.

The authority’s director of consumer protection, Ray Ellard, said it could be extremely difficult for an amateur mushroom hunter to identify safe or poisonous mushrooms.

He said websites and books showing mushrooms were not sufficient to make a confirmed identification of a safe mushroom.

“We are advising amateur mushroom hunters to seek specialist advice from an experienced mushroom forager.” He advised parents to teach children not to eat mushrooms growing wild.

“Eating a wild poisonous mushroom, raw or cooked, can result in people becoming very ill and indeed, in some cases, can be life-threatening.”

Queries about wild mushrooms can be addressed to the authority’s advice line on 1890 336677, or the National Poisons Information Centre on 01 8092166 or online at poisons.ie