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Toxic harvest Mushroom poisoning on the rise in Switzerland

Around 3% of the mushroom harvests tested contained lethal specimens

(Keystone)

A bumper harvest of wild mushrooms has resulted in a 30% increase in the number of cases of poisoning from consuming the wrong fungi. 

Figures released by Tox Info Suisseexternal link on Thursday reveal that 543 cases of mushroom poisoning were reported by the end of October (end of harvest season) compared to 379 last year. This is an unusually high number; the second highest number of poisoning cases was 480, recorded in 2012. 

According to Marionna Schlatter of the Swiss Association of Official Mushroom Checking Bodiesexternal link, the reason for this increase is simple: “More mushrooms equal more poisoning.” She also blamed the media for encouraging novices to try their hand at mushroom foraging.

Last year, mushroom checkers – who are paid to identify dangerous mushrooms – removed specimens unfit for consumption from 40% of around 20,000 harvests submitted. Poisonous mushrooms were detected in 15% of all harvests while lethal ones accounted for 2-3%. 

Mobile phone apps that help foragers identify mushrooms are no substitute for hiring the services of a mushroom checker, says Katharina Schenk-Jäger of Tox Info Suisse. According to her, the apps can be used as a guide but not as a tool to decide which mushrooms to eat.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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