Health Watch -- Mushrooms

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

The grocery store is the safest place to find mushrooms for cooking.

March rains may make your lawn look like a fairyland, full of toadstools that look a lot like the mushrooms you find in the supermarket, but don't be tempted to eat any you find in the wild.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you should consider all mushrooms you find in the wild - whether in your lawn or out in the woods - toxic. Don't eat any mushrooms you pick for yourself.

It's difficult to determine which mushrooms are poisonous and which ones are safe to eat. Dr. Brett Roth, a UT Southwestern poison expert and emergency physician, says that most myths and clues about which mushrooms are safe to eat are inaccurate. For example, there's a common belief that if you see an animal eating a mushroom, that type of mushroom is safe to eat. But there are mushrooms that are poisonous to humans that won't hurt animals. It's also not true that cooking mushrooms destroys the toxins.

Books about mushrooms can be incorrect, and even if they're accurate, you may not interpret the information in the book correctly if you're not a mushroom expert. Making the wrong call can be deadly. While most poisonous mushrooms only cause stomach upset, some can cause neurological problems and kidney damage. If you're craving mushrooms, visit the grocery store.


March 2004