Wild mushroom season has begun : be vigilant !
The arrival of autumn marks the beginning of the wild mushroom picking season. Although wild mushrooms are popular delicacies, some species are nevertheless toxic or even fatal to humans. In 2021, four people died after mistaking a toxic species for an edible species. Whether you are a connoisseur or an occasional picker, you should remain vigilant and comply with good practices to ensure safe consumption.
While very few cases of poisoning occurred in July and August 2022 due to episodes of very hot weather and drought, the weather conditions over the past few days have favoured the growth of wild mushrooms. In fact, since the beginning of September, there has been an increase in the number of poisoning cases reported to poison control centres : over 60 cases have already been recorded since 1 September.
These cases of poisoning have been due to a variety of causes: the mistaking of a toxic species for an edible species, sometimes due to the use of a smartphone app for wild mushroom identification providing incorrect information about the wild mushrooms picked, the consumption of edible mushrooms that are in poor condition or have been undercooked, etc.
Between 1 July and 31 December 2021, 1269 cases of poisoning were reported to poison control centres in France. The large majority of the mushrooms responsible had been picked in the wild (94% of cases). The other cases involved mushrooms purchased commercially.
The symptoms observed were mainly digestive : abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Although most of the cases were benign, there were 41 severe cases including four deaths.
Fifteen young children were poisoned; one of them had to be given a liver transplant. It is important to note that picked mushrooms should never be fed to young children.
Review of good practices to avoid poisoning
In a context where around a thousand people are poisoned or die every year in France due to the consumption of wild mushrooms, ANSES, poison control centres, and the Directorate General for Health reiterate that you should:
- Only pick mushrooms that you know very well: some highly poisonous fungi closely resemble edible species.
- If you have the slightest doubt about the identification of any of the mushrooms you have picked, not consume them until you have had them checked by a specialist: a pharmacist or a local mycology association.
- Never feed the mushrooms you have picked to young children.
- Not consume wild mushrooms identified by a mushroom recognition app on a smartphone, due to the high risk of error.
Find all of the good practices you should adopt before, during and after wild mushroom picking.