Mushroom Mixes: Do you know what you’re buying?
An FDA Alert reminds us about buying mushrooms based on someone else’s label, especially mushroom mixes. Import Alert 25-021 lets the government seize and detain certain imported mushroom products containing “morels”. The alert explains:
In the past, shipments of canned and dried morel mushrooms have been detained due to the presence of Gyromitra esculenta. This mushroom species is known to produce monomethylhydrazine (MMH), a substance which causes severe gastrointestinal disturbance and, in some cases, death.
In addition to Gyromitra esculenta, [the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition] has identified another species, Verpa bohemica, which can also cause toxic effects in some individuals.
Are these products mislabeled as “morels”? Neither is in the genus Morchella. But they might not be mislabelled: “edible morel” and “beefsteak morel” are common names for Gyromitra esculenta, and “early bell morel” and “early morel” are common names for Verpa bohemica.2
My personal takeaways. Be careful when buying:
- Mushroom mixes
- Dried mushroom products
- Imported mushroom products
- Mushroom products identified only by common name.
(Almost everyone — including me — starts out learning about mushrooms by using common names. But if you’re serious about it, then scientific names are necessary. As one mycologist recently told me, if you rely on common names to identify fungi, “you’re just making s**t up”.)
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Import Alert 25-02 https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_80.html
- Gibson, MycoMatch (Matchmaker): Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, Version 2.4.1 (2022) (application, downloadable at https://www.svims.ca/council/matchmaker.htm)