Reminder: All Wild-foraged Mushrooms Offered for Sale Must be Inspected

Re-certification deadline extended to 2021

For Immediate Release: May 8, 2020
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, MDARD, 517-284-5724

LANSING, Mich. – As the spring wild-foraged mushroom season gets underway, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reminds foragers that all mushroom species picked in the wild to be sold must be inspected and found safe by a certified mushroom expert. In addition, all certifications set to expire in 2020 have been extended for one year, due to a temporary suspension of mushroom certification courses.

Michigan’s Food Code requires those who sell mushroom species picked in the wild to either be certified as an approved mushroom identification expert, or to have each mushroom individually inspected and found safe by a certified mushroom expert.

“Wild mushrooms, like morels and chanterelles, help define the forests of Michigan and provide potential income streams for foragers, farmers, restaurateurs and food entrepreneurs,” said Tim Slawinski, MDARD Food and Dairy Division director. “However, if improperly identified, mushrooms can pose serious health risks. If you are purchasing wild mushrooms, you should only purchase them from a certified mushroom identification expert, as required by Michigan’s Food Code, to assure they are safe and edible.”

MDARD recognizes the certification and training course offered by Midwest American Mycological Information (MAMI). MAMI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public organization whose mission is to provide unfettered access to accurate, up-to-date information on topics related to mycology including mushroom identification and cultivation. These certification and training courses have been suspended for 2020 due to the death of course trainer, Chris Wright, a nationally recognized mushroom expert and researcher at Michigan State University, who also served as MAMI’s executive director.

“Due to the sad and untimely passing of MAMI Executive Director Chris Wright on January 29, 2020, MAMI is not conducting certification or recertification exams during the spring of 2020,” said Dr. Greg Bonito, assistant professor of mycology at MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and acting executive director of MAMI. “MAMI is working to fill the void left by this loss, and we expect certifications and recertifications to resume in 2021.”

Those who successfully complete the course offered by MAMI are certified by MDARD and the certification is valid for five years. Certified mushroom identification experts should be prepared to show their certification cards as proof of certification, upon request. MDARD does not receive any money from MAMI for conducting the training and certification. All funds support the training program and materials.

The certification and training course offered by MAMI has been in place for five years. Certifications for those who took the course in 2015 will expire this spring and over the course of the 2020 calendar year. The expiration date for those whose certifications expire in 2020 has been extended for one year. New certification cards with the extended expiration date have been sent to all certified mushroom experts with expiring cards whose addresses were available. If your certification expires in 2020, and you did not receive an extension certification card, please contact Denise Clemens at ClemensD@Michigan.gov.

There are many species of edible mushrooms that grow in Michigan, but there are also toxic, poisonous species, so there is some risk involved. There are also many look-alike varieties for some wild mushrooms, including morels. These ‘look-alikes’ can cause serious illness or death when eaten, so it’s important to know how to properly identify mushrooms and to only buy mushrooms from someone who is a trained, certified mushroom identification expert.

“Please enjoy hunting for and eating your favorite wild mushrooms, but make sure you know how to properly identify them,” said Slawinski. “If you plan to sell your wild mushroom harvest, you must be a certified mushroom identification expert or have the mushrooms inspected by one; and if you operate a store or restaurant and plan to purchase mushrooms for resale to your customers, they must be purchased from an approved source and individually inspected by a certified mushroom identification expert. Finally, if you’re purchasing wild mushrooms, especially online through social media platforms, always ask for proof of certification before purchasing any mushrooms.”

Mushroom poisoning refers to harmful effects from ingestion of toxic substances present in some mushrooms, with symptoms ranging from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. Common symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy and yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). Mushroom poisoning is usually the result of ingestion of wild mushrooms after misidentification of a toxic mushroom as an edible species. The most common reason for this misidentification is close resemblance in terms of color and general morphology of some toxic mushroom species with edible species. If you suspect mushroom poisoning, seek immediate medical assistance, and call the Michigan Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

For information about mushroom identification training and certification, or to view a list of certified mushroom identification experts in Michigan, please visit MAMI’s website at www.midwestmycology.org. To report potentially illegal sales of wild-foraged mushrooms, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or send an e-mail to MDA-Info@Michigan.gov. You may also file a food safety complaint online through the MDARD online complaint form.

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