Please Don’t Pick (and Eat) the Mushrooms!

Poisonous MushroomWith the recent wet weather, the New Jersey Information and Education System (NJPIES) has seen an increase in calls related to mushrooms. Each year, NJ residents find themselves hospitalized after picking and eating wild mushrooms that were thought to be edible. Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause severe illness.

Some symptoms of mushroom poisoning include intense vomiting and diarrhea, damage to vital organs like the liver, and even death. NJPIES warns the public to refrain from eating mushrooms they find growing on their lawns or in the wild.

Many kinds of edible mushrooms have toxic “look-alikes.” There is no easy way to tell the difference between poisonous and harmless mushrooms. In addition, poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms can grow side by side. Even experienced mushroom pickers can be fooled at times, so this warning needs to be given and taken seriously. Discoveries of items of the natural world are opportunities for enjoyment, wonder, and education concerning personal safety. Children must be taught never to put wild plants, berries, nuts, or mushrooms into their mouths.

Call New Jersey Poison Control experts for help

If an exposure should occur; remove any remaining parts of the mushroom from the victim’s mouth and place those fragments and all mushrooms that are in the immediate vicinity of the incident into one or more paper bags (NOT plastic!). Immediately call the NJ poison experts at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center will arrange for an expert to identify the mushroom and the center can then provide advice on management depending on the mushroom’s identification. A digital photograph should be taken of the mushroom(s) in question. It helps to take a picture of the mushroom next to other objects such as a coin, ruler, etc. to provide a sense of scale.