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Mushroom poisonings are up in France - and it’s all due to the weather

Amanita, or death cap, mushrooms are native to France - and deadly poisonous
Amanita, or death cap, mushrooms are native to France - and deadly poisonous Copyright Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Copyright Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
By Saskia O'DonoghueEuronews with AFP
Published on Updated
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Experts are warning that apps which claim to identify different mushroom species can get it wrong, so don't rely on technology to tell the edible from the poisonous.

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More than 250 cases of mushroom poisoning have been recorded in France since the beginning of August.

That’s already twice the figure compared to the same period in 2022.

Rainy weather in several regions is said to be behind the increase, with the picking period brought forward as a result of the inclement climate.

The Health Security Agency (ANSES), responsible for reporting figures recorded by poison control centres, has encouraged “vigilance” among the French public.

ANSES explains that the rise in poisoning is down to several reasons.

In a statement, they warned that it was easy to fall foul of the edible fungus, saying people had experienced: "confusion of an edible species with a toxic species, sometimes due to the use of a mushroom recognition application on a smartphone (...), or even consumption of edible mushrooms in poor condition, badly preserved or insufficiently cooked".

WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images
Death Cap mushrooms are among those which have seen early growth due to rainy conditions in FranceWILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

In 2022 there were more poisonings reported to control centres than in previous years, an increasing annual trend in France.

Last year, 74 young children were poisoned, including an 11-month-old child who required a stay in intensive care.

Concerningly, a proportion of those poisoned had used recognition apps on smartphones, suggesting they’re not infallible.

Authorities say in order to avoid even more poisonings this mushroom season, harvesters must consult an expert before consuming them.

Poisonous mushrooms can often closely resemble those which are fit for eating.

They’ve also warned that mushrooms picked must not be fed to very young children and that many smartphone apps which claim to identify them come with a high risk of error.

The message comes as Australia mourns a couple who died after eating mushrooms in a dish cooked by their former daughter-in-law.

Gail and Don Patterson were among three people who died after the lunch at Erin Patterson's home. Don’s sister Heather Wilkinson also passed away - and her husband Ian, a pastor, remains in hospital.

Erin Patterson has maintained her innocence and has said she used the poisonous mushrooms by accident.

She was named as a suspect by police for the incident after she and her two children were seemingly unharmed by the lunch. She has not been arrested, though, nor does she face any charges.

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