Council offers foraging advice

Published Thursday, 31st August 2017

civic centre

Our Environmental Health Officers are reminding residents to practise caution when foraging for food, after a local resident was hospitalised from inadvertently eating a poisonous mushroom.

The Southend resident, who is an experienced mushroom picker, was recently out foraging in Hockley Woods, when she picked a death cap mushroom by mistake. This has led to the resident being hospitalised for several days with severe illness. Although the resident, who does not wish to be identified, is now recovering well, it is a worrying example of the risks of foraging for food.

Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport, Waste and Regulatory Services, said: “Foraging for food is an increasingly popular activity but there is always a risk that foragers, no matter how experienced, may pick a poisonous mushroom or berry by mistake.

“Death cap mushrooms are extremely poisonous and eating just half of one can have fatal consequences.

“We urge anyone who is foraging to be extra-vigilant and, if in any doubt about a food’s identification, not to eat it. When foraging, it is good practice to keep a sliver of the food you pick aside, so if an illness does arise, the food can be identified and appropriate treatment given.”

Foraging should only be undertaken with the consent of the land owner as taking plants form someone’s else’s land may be seen as theft. In addition to this picking plants in some sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is prohibited. In Southend we ask that people do not remove plants and fungi from our parks and instead leave them for wildlife and all to enjoy.

You can find out vital foraging information and advice at various different sites. Follow these links for more information.