Poisoning cases in 2023 occurring as early as August
Rainy weather in several French regions in August has favoured early wild mushroom growth. At the same time, since 1 August 2023, there has been an increase in poisonings reported to French poison control centres: over 250 cases have already been documented, twice as many as in 2022.
These poisoning cases have been due to a variety of causes: mistaking a toxic species for an edible one, sometimes due to the use of a smartphone app for wild mushroom identification that provided incorrect information about the species picked, or consuming edible mushrooms that were in poor condition, undercooked or not stored properly.
In 2022, the number of poisoning cases was higher than in previous years
Between 1 July and 31 December 2022, 1923 cases of poisoning were reported to poison control centres in France.
While the total number of poisoning cases was higher than in previous years (1269 in 2021), the number of serious cases was down slightly, with 37 cases of high severity (compared with 41 in 2021), including two deaths (compared with 4 deaths in 2021).
Furthermore, despite the fact that they should not eat wild mushrooms, 74 young children were poisoned, including an 11-month-old child who contracted severe hepatitis requiring a stay in intensive care.
Among the 1923 poisoning cases, 30 people had used smartphone identification apps.
A reminder of good practices to avoid poisoning
Given that around a thousand people are poisoned in France every year (including a handful of deaths) due to the consumption of wild mushrooms, ANSES, the French poison control centres and the Directorate General for Health wish to reiterate the following:
- Only pick mushrooms that you know very well: some highly poisonous fungi closely resemble edible species.
- If you have the slightest doubt about the identification of any of the mushrooms you have picked, do not consume them until you have had them checked by a specialist: a pharmacist or a local mycology association.
- Never feed the mushrooms you have picked to young children.
- Do not consume wild mushrooms identified by a mushroom recognition app on a smartphone, due to the high risk of error.
Click here for all the advice you should follow before, during and after wild mushroom picking.