Deathcap mushroom warning issued for autumn

By AG Staff Writer 28 February 2017
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The Food Safety Information Council has warned people not to pick or eat wild mushrooms as deathcap mushrooms come into season.

AS AUTUMN APPROACHES, deathcap mushrooms are starting to appear in southern and western regions of Australia, prompting a warning from the Food Safety Information Council not to pick or eat wild mushrooms.

Deathcap mushrooms, which start to appear at this time of year, can be found in the Canberra region, in and around Melbourne and in Adelaide. The poison in one deathcap mushroom is enough to kill a healthy adult, and nine out of 10 cases of mushroom poisoning in Australia result from these mushrooms.

In the past 16 years, four people have died after eating deathcap mushrooms found in the ACT. In 2012, two people died at a New Year’s Eve dinner party in Canberra, and in 2014 four people were seriously poisoned.

“The toxin in deathcap mushrooms is not destroyed by cooking. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps and often don’t appear until 10 to 16 hours after eating. These symptoms may ease for two to three days before a terminal phase of three to four days begins. Without early, effective medical intervention people may go into a coma and die after two or three weeks of liver and kidney failure,” said Rachelle Williams, Food Safety Information Council Chair. 

According to the Council, deathcap mushrooms can be difficult to distinguish from other wild mushrooms. “People born overseas, especially in Asian countries, should be aware that these deadly mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms that they may have gathered overseas,” said Rachelle.

Deathcap mushrooms are not native to Australia, and are found near oak trees in warm wet weather during Autumn. As they are most prevalent in Canberra, ACT residents are asked to report any sightings of these mushrooms to Access Canberra on 13 22 81.