French authorities have warned about wild mushroom consumption after seeing a spike in poisoning cases.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) said mushroom picking had started earlier than usual in 2023.

Rainy weather in several regions in August encouraged the growth of mushrooms. Growth varies yearly, depending on various things, including weather.

Since the start of August, intoxications reported to poison control centers (CAP) have increased. More than 250 cases have already been recorded, twice as many as in the same period in 2022.

There are several reasons for poisonings, including confusion of an edible species with a toxic variety or consumption of edible mushrooms in poor condition that were poorly preserved or insufficiently cooked.

It is not recommended to serve infants picked wild mushrooms but 74 young children were poisoned, including an 11-month-old child who required treatment in intensive care.

Not a new problem
Although ANSES issues recommendations yearly, cases are frequently reported to poison control centers.

Between July and December 2022, 1,923 poisonings were reported to CAPs. This was more than 1,269 cases in 2021. However, the number of serious cases was down slightly from 41 in 2021 to 37 in 2022. There were two deaths compared to four fatalities in 2021. The peak this past year was in October when more than 1,000 cases were recorded.

From all poisonings, 30 people had used recognition applications on smartphones. This is not advised due to the high risk of error.

Pick only specimens in good condition and take the entire mushroom to help with identification. Do not pick mushrooms near potentially polluted sites such as roadsides and landfills.

Store mushrooms in the fridge at a maximum of 4 degrees C (39.2 degrees F), avoid all contact with other foods, and consume within two days of picking. Ensure they are correctly cooked – 20 to 30 minutes in a pan or 15 minutes in boiling water – and don’t eat too many in one sitting.

ANSES recommends only collecting mushrooms they know, as some highly toxic ones are similar to edible species. Poisonous types can also grow where edible varieties had been picked in the past. If there is the slightest doubt, consult a specialist before consumption.

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