Fresh warning to avoid wild mushrooms

The NSW Poisons Information Centre has issued a fresh warning about the dangers of consuming mushrooms found in the wild, following a spike in emergency presentations across the state.

The constant moisture from the wet weather in NSW this year has brought with it optimal growing conditions for mushrooms, prolonging the sprouting season later than expected.

From 29 April to 19 May this year, 14 people presented to an emergency department in NSW with wild mushroom poisoning. Of these 14, nine presented in one week and three were admitted to hospital.

From 1 May and 18 May, the NSW Poisons Information Centre also received 56 calls regarding mushroom exposures. Of these calls, 37 cases were related to mushrooms being foraged or consumed for recreational purposes.

If ingested, wild mushrooms can cause serious poisoning, including nausea and vomiting, and can lead to liver and kidney damage, which can be fatal.

Genevieve Adamo, Senior Specialist in Poisons Information at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, said it is often difficult to identify edible from poisonous mushrooms in the wild.

“There is no reliable way to identify mushrooms picked in the wild, so it’s best to completely avoid picking or eating wild mushrooms. It is simply not worth the risk,” Ms Adamo said.

“If not properly identified, wild mushrooms can make you very ill and could be lethal. Cooking or boiling wild mushrooms also does not make them safe to eat, which is why we recommend people to only eat store-bought mushrooms.”

To prevent accidental exposure to wild mushrooms, check the garden before allowing children to play as mushrooms can pop up overnight. Remove and dispose of any mushrooms in the garden or playground.

Anyone who is exposed to wild mushrooms should call the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26) immediately. In an emergency, people should call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance, or seek medical treatment through their doctor or local emergency department.