Know your death cap from your champignon: more people eat poisonous mushrooms

Poisonous mushroom fly agaric in natural environment

An abundance of mushrooms this autumn has lead to more people becoming ill through eating the wrong kind, the AD reported on Wednesday.

The wet summer and a cold autumn have created a mushroom boom and people, especially from countries where mushroom picking is an annual ritual such as Poland, are taking the opportunity to supplement their diet, the paper writes.

However, over 180 people have been to the doctor’s already this year to get checked out after feeling unwell after a mushroom meal, say the NVIC, which monitors cases of poisoning. The number of cases for the whole of 2016 was around 132. In most cases it is children who fall ill.

‘For every edible mushroom there’s a poisonous look-alike,’ forest ranger André Wels told the paper.

Picking mushrooms is banned in many parts of the country although Staatsbosbeheer, the biggest owner of woodland in the Netherlands, allows pickers to take home some 250 grammes.

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers are also prone to mushroom poisoning and asylum seekers centre organisation COA sends out information leaflets on the dangers every year.

‘These people are used to picking mushrooms in their countries and they know exactly which ones to pick. But here it might be slightly different and you can have one poisonous mushroom in among a bunch of edible ones, NVIC toxicologist Antoinette van Riel told the paper.

According to Van Riel there have been no fatalities in the last few years ‘but then not all cases are reported to us.’

The AD article contains a mushroom quiz. See if you know your death cap from your champignon.