‘Not worth the risk’: health authorities have warned against eating wild mushrooms

By AAP April 14, 2021
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Health authorities are strongly advising against foraging for wild mushrooms, warning that mushrooms found in the wild or in your backyard can be toxic.

With recent rain creating ideal conditions for mushrooms to pop up in the wild, health authorities are advising against the foraging trend, warning that eating wild fungi can be fatal.

“We strongly advise against foraging for mushrooms and encourage people to only eat store bought mushrooms,” Genevieve Adamo from the NSW Poisons Information Centre said on Wednesday.

Mushrooms found in the wild or in the backyard are not safe to eat.

The centre has already received 155 calls about mushroom consumption this year.

More than 80 per cent of accidental exposures occurred in children under five.

Related: An illustrated guide to backyard fungi

“Alarmingly there were 33 calls regarding adults who ate wild mushrooms as food, and 20 calls regarding cases of mushrooms being ingested for recreational purposes,” Ms Adamo said.

“People don’t realise that this could be deadly,” she said.

Many mushrooms growing in the wild can cause serious poisoning, including the Death Cap mushroom, which if eaten can lead to potentially fatal organ damage.

“It is never recommended to pick and eat wild mushrooms, as it is very difficult to identify which mushrooms are safe to eat,” Ms Adamo said.

Poisonous mushrooms in Australia can look like edible mushrooms from Europe and Asia and changes in the appearance of mushrooms during the life cycle make it difficult to identify.

Toxic mushrooms can also grow in a spot where previously only edible mushrooms grew “so the fact you have safely eaten mushrooms growing in that spot previously is no guarantee that it is safe to pick mushrooms again”, Ms Adamo warned.

Cooking or boiling wild mushrooms also does not make them safe to eat.

“Eating wild mushrooms is not worth the risk,” she said.