Mushroom Safety

Here at Mushroom Shack we rank safety right next to quality and customer satisfaction.  The mushrooms that we grow and harvest are certified, organic, and safe to consume.  Our specially designed Mushroom Farms are produced in a sterile laboratory by trained mycologists.   However, when mushroom hunting in the wild, there are some issues you need be aware of.


Toadstool is a nickname commonly applied to poisonous or inedible mushrooms. Very few species of mushroom are fatal, there are many that can cause sickness or stomach discomfort, so care should be taken to avoid those species.. Mushroom hunters must take great care in identifying their quarry, and should follow certain rules and guidelines to ensure safety.

The Dark Side

The darker side to Mycophagy is the potential for poisoning.   Even veteran mycophiles have surrendered their better judgment in the excitement of the chase, only to later suffer mild to violent sickness – or even death.  The reality is, those penalties may be imposed for in failing to follow a complete and thorough process of identification.   For beginners, it is 100% ESSENTIAL to confirm the identity of mushrooms (under the tutelage of a trusted and experienced person) prior to consumption.   There is simply no substitute for a mentor in this instance.  Even the best books can be a little confusing, so find a mentor who can teach you the “This one is good to eat” and “This one is not”.  The inexperienced person may think they are “sure” of his identification, but may also be completely unaware of subtle (but critical) details or differences they are missing.   Veteran mushroom hunters, therefore, tend to be a conservative lot, with sayings such as: "There are OLD mushroom hunters and there are BOLD mushroom hunters but there are no OLD BOLD mushroom hunters.”

Educate yourself!

Beyond learning how to identify known poisonous species, potential Mycophagists should also be aware that there are a few other danger factors to be aware of:

Use good judgment.

Individuals have their own unique sensitivities to different foods.  There are a few species that are generally considered safe to which some individuals may have adverse reactions.  Species that are generally considered “safe” can become unsafe when growing in the presence of environmental toxins (you are what you eat; if a mushroom eats poisons, then that mushroom may become poisonous).  Some farm sprays can contaminate normally safe mushrooms.  Be aware of the environment the mushrooms are growing in.  It is also possible for a person who has enjoyed a specific species of edible mushroom many times before to suddenly develop an allergy to that species.

Questionable mushrooms?

Use good judgment; rules of food safety still apply!Mushrooms are very high in protein and present themselves as ideal growing media for bacteria. Examine mushrooms thoroughly before eating them.  Just as you wouldn't eat questionable meat, you shouldn’t eat questionable mushrooms!

Enjoy in Moderation

Many wild mushrooms are partially indigestible (they contain elements for which our bodies do not produce digestive enzymes).  In small amounts, these indigestible enzymes pose no danger, but in larger quantities, they may upset more sensitive digestive systems.  These adverse reactions are more likely in people with weak or undeveloped immune systems.

Blame your over-protective Parents

It is also possible for people to worry themselves into sickness if they are anxious or unsure about consuming wild mushrooms.  

Mushrooms and Alcohol?

Some mushrooms can turn off the body's ability to produce the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol.  Continued alcohol consumption under these conditions can result in alcohol poisoning, as the body is unable to process the process the alcohol out of your system.

Follow These Guidelines:

1.  When eating a new species, eat only a small amount.  Eat it by itself, so if there is a reaction, the cause is readily identifiable.

2.  Never eat mushrooms harvested from an area, which is known to be toxic.  (EPA sponsored “No Trespassing” signs should be a good indicator)

3.  Wild mushrooms should always be enjoyed in moderation, particularly if the species or harvest location is unfamiliar to you.

4.  Do not mix an unfamiliar species with other mushrooms.

5.  Always reserve some of the fresh mushroom in the refrigerator as a reference.  If you become ill, this reference mushroom could save your life.

6.  We recommend that wild mushrooms be served fully cooked.

7.  Wild mushrooms should not be served to the very young or very elderly.

8.  Don’t try to push mushrooms on people who do not like them or who are afraid of getting sick.

9.  Don't mix large amounts of wild mushrooms with large amounts of alcohol consumption.

Mushroom poisoning (also known as mycetism)

Signs of possible mycetism may include but are not limited to:

Upset stomach, vomiting, cramping of the stomach, chills, fever, and hallucinations

Of the many thousands of wild mushroom species in the world, only 30 have been associated with fatalities, and an additional 50 have been identified as containing significant toxins.  In case of possible mushroom poisoning please contact:

The American Association of Poison Control Centers 1-800-222-1222