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Warning as 600 poisonings from wild mushrooms in France since July

The health consequences can be serious or even fatal. Officials warn against using smartphone applications for identification

More than 600 poisonings from wild mushrooms have been reported to Poison Control Centres since July Pic: Liukov/Shutterstock

More than 600 poisonings from people eating wild mushrooms have been reported to poison control centres in France since July. 

Whether you are a connoisseur or an occasional picker, the health consequences from a mistake can be serious.

Poisonings are increasing, said Chloé Greillet from France's national health agency Anses.

"In 2022, there was a spike in poisonings in October, the same month as in the previous five years,” she warned in her July report.

The number of poisonings in 2022 was higher than in previous years, in a trend that has continued this year, with more than 600 cases reported to poison control centres since July 1, 2023. 

These poisonings often result from either mistaking a poisonous species for an edible one or from eating edible mushrooms in poor condition, poorly preserved or undercooked.

The use of smartphone applications 

The confusion of edible and poisonous species could also be caused by a mushroom recognition smartphone app identifying them incorrectly.

1,923 poisonings were reported to poison control centres between July 1 and December 31 2022. Smartphone apps were implicated in 30 of these poisonings and in two cases people died. 

Anses recommends "not consuming mushrooms identified by a mushroom recognition application on a smartphone due to the high risk of error". 

Good practice for safe consumption

Favourable weather conditions have caused the mushroom season to start earlier this year, which has also contributed to the increase in poisonings. 

Anses together with the poison control centres and health officials are warning people to be careful when out picking mushrooms. 

In addition to not relying on identification apps, they advise people to only collect mushrooms that they are familiar with and never to feed picked mushrooms to young children.

If you have any doubt about the identification of a mushroom, do not consume it before it is  checked by a specialist in the field.

Ask your pharmacist

In France people can take mushrooms to their local pharmacy to check if they are edible.

Pharmacists are trained in mycology and should, in theory, know more than 100 species of mushrooms by the end of their studies.

Arguably, some may lack training or up-to-date knowledge (for example those based in cities) however they should be able to refer queries to someone who is able to help. 

Read also

Early - and good - start to mushroom season in France

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