Money ran out for mushroom control, over protests

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There’s a long tradition in Norway for heading into the forests at the end of the summer and early autumn to “sanke sopp,” or pick mushrooms. Some of them can be dangerous or even fatal, though, and now there won’t be any stands staffed by mushroom experts who can tell the pickers what’s safe and what’s not.

The so-called soppkontroll stands often seen near public transport hubs on weekends during mushroom season won’t be set up this year. Public funding for the mushroom advisers ended in 2007, and newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that Norway’s national mushroom association has now run out of resources as well.

“There’s nothing we’d rather do than carry out mushroom controls,” Edvin W Johannesen of the association (Norges sopp- og nyttevektsforbund, NSNF) told Aftenposten. “But now we’ve scraped the bottom of our resources and we aren’t able to operate this fall without support from the authorities.”

He warned that the consequences can be dramatic. Last year, even with the controls still on offer, 15 people were admitted to hospital with serious mushroom poisoning, and two ended up needing liver transplants. Around 12,000 people, meanwhile, visited NSNF’s stands last year, and 300 of them were found with poisonous mushrooms in their baskets. The stands may have saved their lives.

Agriculture Minister Sylvi Listhaug of the conservative Progress Party agreed it was tragic when people eat poisonous mushrooms they’ve picked, but believes it’s a matter of individual responsibility. It’s up to each person to gain enough knowledge themselves about mushrooms, she said, and refrain from eating anything of which they’re uncertain. staff