December 10, 2023

FDA Releases Morel Advisory After Dave’s Sushi Illnesses

The FDA releases Morel advisory after illnesses among patrons of Dave’s Sushi in Bozeman, Montana. At least 50 people were sickened, and two customers died after eating at that establishment, although the manner of death has not been established. Morel mushrooms are most often foraged from the wild.

FDA Releases Morel Advisory After Dave's Sushi Illnesses

While morel mushrooms are generally regarded as safe to eat, they may contain toxins that can cause health problems. The advisory states that the toxins that can cause illness are not fully understood. Cooking the mushrooms properly can reduce toxin levels, but the FDA says that people should eat morel and other wild-type mushrooms at their own risk.

As of May 19, 2023, the outbreak at Dave’s Sushi has sickened 50 people who ate at the restaurant between March 28 and April 27, 2023. Forty-four of those patients ate morel mushrooms. Three people were hospitalized, and two deaths are associated with this incident. A sample of leftover mushrooms were collected from the restaurant. Lab analysis found that the sampled mushrooms were true morels, not Gyromitra esculenta, or false morel, or Verpa bohemica, or early morel.

No pathogen, toxin, heavy metal, toxin, or pesticide has been identified in the mushrooms. But testing and analysis is ongoing. Epidemiological evidence indicates that the morel mushrooms eaten at the restaurant are likely the cause of these illnesses. Mushrooms poisonings can be difficult to diagnose because the exact chemical nature of some toxins found in wild-type mushrooms are unknown.

False Morels

It can be dangerous to collect and eat wild mushrooms. True morels are known as Morchella. Two varieties of false morels, Gyromitra esculenta and Verpa bohemica, are often mistaken for true morels because they are very similar in appearance. Gyromitra can contain gyromitrin, a toxin, and should not be eaten, whether they are cooked or uncooked. The toxins in these mushrooms have been linked to mushroom poisonings and can be fatal in even relatively small amounts.

Verpa bohemica

Verpa bohemica

Symptoms of gyromitrin poisoning include headache, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and loss of coordination. Severe symptoms include seizure, heart failure, liver and kidney damage, and death. The toxin can be partially broken down by high temperature, but even if these false morels are cooked, the toxins can remain.

Edible mushrooms species can be difficult to identify in the wild. Even experts can get it wrong. Mushroom poisonings are almost always caused by eating wild-type mushrooms. The toxins occur naturally. People have gotten sick after eating wild-type fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms, stir-fried mushrooms, home-canned mushrooms, mushrooms cooked in sauces, and mushrooms that were blanched and frozen.

If you do choose for forage for mushrooms, consult with an expert before you eat them. It is much safer to get mushrooms from grocery stores that sell mushrooms grown on professional farms.

FDA does not have premarket approval of food products. Claims that mushrooms or other food products are “FDA-approved” are inaccurate and don’t ensure that a food is safe to eat.

Attorneys at the Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Law Firm

If you have been sickened with a food poisoning infection, please contact our experienced attorneys for help with a possible lawsuit at 1-888-377-8900 or text us at 612-261-0856. Our firm represents clients in lawsuits against grocery stores, restaurants, and food processors, and families in wrongful death cases.

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