Thousands of Norwegians are likely to head out this weekend to “sanke sopp” (pick mushrooms), and biologists and health care personnel wish there were more checkpoints where pickers’ harvests could be controlled. A recent spate of serious illnesses caused by poisonous mushrooms has them worried.
“We’ve never had so many cases (of people falling ill after inadvertently eating poisonous mushrooms) so early in the season,” Dr Dag Jacobsen at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo told newspaper Dagsavisen. Last week around a dozen people were admitted to hospitals, some suffering liver and kidney damage.
Around 10 percent of the Norwegian population is believed to pick mushrooms and September is high season. Mushroom control stations are often set up at major public transportation hubs or trailheads, where experts can examine mushrooms in pickers’ baskets to sort out those which are safe to eat and those which are not. But Even Hanssen of state biology council SABIMA said there’s not enough of them.
“When the public sector doesn’t support mushroom control economically, it’s shirking its responsibility,” Hanssen claimed. Others feel the mushroom pickers themselves need to be more responsible, by researching mushrooms and studying photos of which types are particularly risky, such as the white mushroom known as hvit fluesopp.