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Montana DPHHS urges caution around morel mushrooms during spring foraging season

Posted at 10:44 AM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 10:21:44-04

HELENA — The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is urging people to use caution when foraging and consuming morel mushrooms.

Spring is a popular time to search for the wild mushrooms, which many consider a delicacy.

However, improper identification, handling, and preparation can lead to severe illness and even death.

DPHHS highlighted the outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that sickened more than 50 people last year. The illness was linked to undercooked or raw morel mushrooms served at Bozeman restaurant Dave's Sushi.

Dave's Sushi

Out of the 51 people who became ill, three were hospitalized and two died.

DPHHS says illness from morels may seem rare, but the true numbers may be under reported.

DPHHS offers these tips to protect yourself:

  • First, make sure you are consuming true morels, if you are unsure consult an expert.
  • Choose morels that are dry and firm.
  • Avoid storing morels in plastic bags that can cause the mushrooms to "sweat." Moisture can lead to bacteria growth.
  • Finally, make sure any morels you eat are fully cooked. Cooking the mushrooms likely reduces the level of toxins present.

If you do think you got sick from eating a morel mushroom, consult your healthcare provider.