Poisonings caused by ingestion of toxic, wild-picked morel mushrooms have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Problems occur when collectors of wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic look-alike species with the edible wild species offered for sale. A 2-year survey conducted by the FDA showed 21% of the morel and 15% of the wild mixed mushrooms were contaminated with toxic look-alike species. These contaminants contain toxins that produce symptoms ranging from dizziness and gastrointestinal distress to liver and heart damage. Present regulatory controls include FDA Import Alerts for morels contaminated with Gyromitra esculenta and Verpa bohemica, a Michigan state regulation requiring licensing of harvesters of wild mushrooms, and an Illinois state regulation prohibiting the sale of wild-picked mushrooms through retail outlets. American consumers, unable to distinguish between edible and toxic look-alike wild mushrooms, may face illness and possibly death from products purchased on the normally well-regulated U.S. consumer market.

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