3 April 2020

Why this mushroom is off the menu (the name is a clue)

| Ian Bushnell
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Death Cap mushroom

The Death Cap mushroom: don’t even touch it. Photo: Food Safety Information Council.

They may look like a free treat for mushroom lovers but the meal may be the last one you enjoy.

Foodies are being warned to resist the temptation to forage in the wild as the recent rain produces a fresh crop of the appropriately named Death Cap mushroom.

ACT Health has urged the community to report any sightings of mushrooms in public areas to Access Canberra.

Death Cap mushrooms, which can be lethal if ingested, often grow near established oak trees and can be found when there is wet weather. In Canberra that is usually in autumn, but there is no specific season.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman is urging Canberrans and visitors not to pick or eat any wild mushrooms, and to buy all mushrooms from a reputable supplier.

Anyone who finds a mushroom in a public area should report it to Access Canberra immediately and keep children and animals away from it as it is dangerous to even touch the Death Cap with bare hands.

Four people have died in Canberra from eating the mushroom since 2002.

Death Cap mushrooms are easily confused with edible mushrooms and even experienced collectors can be mistaken.

Symptoms of Death Cap mushroom poisoning generally occur six to 24 hours or more after ingestion and include stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

They may subside for a day or two but this is only a false dawn, with the toxin already having caused serious liver damage.

Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department, taking a whole mushroom sample for identification if possible. The sooner the treatment begins, the better the chances of survival.

To report mushroom sightings, contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

For more information about the Death Cap mushroom, including important health advice, visit ACT Health.

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Stephen Saunders6:48 am 07 Apr 20

Been picking proper mushrooms for 60 years, ain’t died yet. Found a delicious clump in open terrain by the lake, great isolation food.

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