The use of deadly backyard mushrooms implicated in the accidental poisoning of two female senior citizens residing at an assisted living facility in California has been deemed an accident, and regulations that govern food handling practices do indeed exempt foraged food including mushrooms.
The deadly backyard mushrooms killed the two women and sickened four others at the facility including the person that prepared the soup. Police say that the mushrooms, which sprouted following rains in the area, were not identified as toxic.
Elderly individuals are at a higher risk after consuming tainted food, and the deadly backyard mushrooms did not appear to violate any regulation in regards to food safety. Lt. Mark Reed of the Placer County sheriff’s office commented on the accidental poisoning, saying:
“The caretaker just didn’t know, and she went outside and picked these mushrooms and made dinner, and she ate some of it herself … It’s definitely a sad, sad thing.”
Local food blogger and locavore Ed Fletcher is a practiced forager, and he explains that the incident involving deadly backyard mushrooms is one that is a risk even for experienced mushroom pickers. Fletcher says:
“Where experienced mushroom hunters go wrong is they gather the bad mushrooms hiding among the edible ones.”
“You have to look at every wild mushroom you bring home as an individual. If you don’t do that, you are courting danger.”
Reed said it was clear that the deadly backyard mushrooms were the cause of illness for the six sickened by the soup, saying one older woman living in the facility refused dinner and did not fall ill:
“She didn’t eat it. They said she was an ornery lady and didn’t want to eat.”
The women poisoned by the deadly backyard mushrooms have been identified as Barbara Lopes, 86, and Teresa Olesniewicz, 73.