ANSES issues warning following mushroom poisonings

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

ANSES and DGS issue warning following spate of poisonings from wild mushroom consumption
ANSES and DGS issue warning following spate of poisonings from wild mushroom consumption
87 people have been poisoned since the start of October from eating mushrooms in France.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Food and Safety (ANSES) and the Directorate General for Health (DGS) have put together recommendations for wild mushroom gatherers.

The agencies said three of the cases were ‘severe’ and most poisonings result from confusion with other edible mushrooms.

Effects of eating wild mushrooms

Such poisoning can have serious health consequences (severe digestive disorders, kidney complications or liver damage that may require a transplant) and can be fatal.

ANSES and DGS recommendations

  • only pick mushrooms you can clearly identify: some highly poisonous fungi closely resemble edible species;
  • if you have any doubts about the condition or identification of any mushrooms you have picked, do not consume until you have them checked by a specialist (pharmacists or regional mycology associations and societies);
  • only pick specimens in good condition and take the entire mushroom (stalk and cap), to facilitate identification;
  • separate the harvested mushrooms according to species, to avoid mixing pieces of poisonous fungi with edible mushrooms;
  • wash your hands thoroughly after picking;
  • never offer wild mushrooms you have picked to young children, pregnant women or fragile individuals if doubts persist about their edible nature and if they have not been identified by a specialist

Symptoms associated with eating wild mushrooms (diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, trembling, dizziness, vision problems, etc.) may appear up to 12 hours after consumption.

ANSES and DGS said it is useful to note the time of the last meal and onset of the first symptoms and to keep any leftovers from the harvest for identification.

They advised anyone with such symptoms to call their regional poison centre.

ANSES and DGS said recent weather conditions (a warm period followed by heavy rains) have promoted the growth of wild mushrooms and there has been a sharp increase in poisonings associated with consumption.

From June to August last year the Institut national de veille sanitaire (InVS) reported 212 poisonings due to eating wild mushrooms.

Recommendations include avoiding picking mushrooms near polluted sites; place them separately in a box for storage and never in a plastic bag which accelerates decomposition; store separately in the refrigerator and consume within no more than two days of picking and cook thoroughly before consumption and never eat them raw.

Campylobacter working group

Meanwhile, ANSES has been requested by the General Directorate for Food (DGAL) to assess the risk of human campylobacteriosis and evaluate the impact of possible control measures in the poultry meat sector.

Campylobacter spp. is the top cause of food zoonosis in France and Europe with a steady increase in cases over the past fifteen years.

Monitoring plans show a high level of contamination in poultry products in France with 30% of human campylobacteriosis attributable to poultry meat.

France does not have a national control plan for Campylobacter while other member states have implemented such measures. 

A working group will be set up by ANSES and report to the Expert Committee on "Assessment of risks related to biological hazards in food" (CES Biorisk).

The call for applications is open until 17 November, the group will meet every six weeks from January to December 2017 and produce an expert report. Meetings will be held in English.

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