Mushroom season 2021: tips for safe picking

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Ceps, chanterelles, boletus … It’s time to take advantage of the weekends to go into the forest with your basket under your arm, especially since the 2021 mushroom season is particularly early. To prevent poisoning related to the consumption of inedible mushrooms, here are the prevention tips to follow.

Fall is mushroom season. This year, the summer weather conditions favored their early onset. 

Already cases of food poisoning during the summer of 2021

Between July 1 and August 29, 2021, 330 cases of food poisoning have already been reported to poison control centers, three of which are very serious and potentially life-threatening, and three deaths are already listed, says ANSES. , the Food Safety Agency, in a press release posted on August 31.

Each year, poisoning surveillance is carried out using data collected by poison control centers located throughout the country. “The results of the past season show that between July 1 and December 31, 2020, more than 1,300 poisonings were reported to the poison centers, particularly in October (56% of cases), when the meteorological conditions combining precipitation, humidity and freshness favored the growth of mushrooms and their picking “, summarizes ANSES.

Suppose most poisonings were linked to picked mushrooms; in 4.5% of the cases, they had been bought in a market or a store. In addition, 3% of the patients were following ingestion by a child or an adult with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or an intellectual disability, of a piece of inedible mushroom found in the garden or schoolyard.

How to avoid confusing poisonous mushroom and edible mushroom

So, before leaving with your family to pick in the undergrowth, remember what to do and what not to do to avoid getting sick while eating your selection.

  • Pick only the mushrooms you know: some boletus and cortinaria are edible, others are not, and yet they look alike, so make no mistake.
  • Pick the mushrooms whole and in good condition: all mushrooms in your basket should have their caps and stems on and show no signs of rotting.
  • Sort the mushrooms: take a basket for each type of mushroom. Thus, in the event of an error in your picking, you will only throw away the basket containing the inedible mushroom and not your entire harvest.
  • Have your mushrooms examined: an error is always possible; before returning home, bring your mushrooms to a pharmacist or to a mycology association who will confirm their identification.
  • Due to the high risk of error, do not consume a mushroom identified only using a mushroom recognition application on a smartphone.
  • Do not pick just anywhere: mushrooms are natural sponges: they absorb what is in the ground. So avoid picking them near polluted sites such as industrial areas, highways, landfills, non-organic fields …: they may contain a certain amount of heavy metals, fertilizers, pesticides … harmful to health.
  • Store them flat in a cardboard box or wooden crate, but never in a plastic bag, which accelerates rotting and promotes the growth of bacteria and toxic substances.
  • Devour them: mushrooms are fragile and keep very little time in the refrigerator: maximum two days.
  • Please do not give them to children: It is best never to give young children the mushrooms you have picked for safety reasons. To introduce them to this vegetable, prefer the market gardener’s button mushroom. 
  • Always cook them: never eat your mushrooms raw. Cook them sufficiently and consume them in small quantities. Poorly cooked mushrooms can cause food poisoning.
  • Photograph your harvest before cooking: the photo will be helpful to the pharmacist or the doctor of the poison control center in the event of poisoning to decide on the appropriate treatment.

If, after consuming mushrooms, one or more of these symptoms appear (vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, tremors, visual disturbances, etc.), immediately call 15 or the poison control center in your region, specifying that you have eaten mushrooms. These symptoms, which reflect severe intoxication, appear at least 6 hours after a meal and most often 12 hours after.

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