Fancy food ain’t safe food: Spanish woman dies after eating at Michelin-starred restaurant in Valencia

Christina Vazquez of El Pais reports an investigation has been opened to determine the cause of death of a 46-year-old woman, who became ill after eating at a one-star Michelin restaurant called RiFF in Valencia.

A total of 23 other patrons, including the victim’s husband and 12-year-old son, also fell sick after the meal but their symptoms were mild and they have reportedly all recovered. The restaurant will be closed to the public until the cause of death has been established.

Everything appears to be normal and now analytical tests will be carried out on the food products

The case was confirmed by regional health chief Ana Barceló, who expressed her condolences to the family and said that an investigation was already underway.

Barceló added that at this point she could not confirm whether the sickness had been caused by morel mushrooms that were on the restaurant’s menu. “We will have to wait for the autopsy to be carried out on the woman before we can determine whether it was the ingestion of a food that directly caused her death, or whether it prompted a state that led to this fatal outcome, or if she had an exisiting condition,” she explained on Wednesday.

Forensic teams are working to determine whether she could have been poisoned by something she ate, or whether she may have choked on her own vomit.

In a statement, the owner of RiFF, Bernd H. Knöller, announced that the restaurant will remain closed until the cause of the food poisoning outbreak is determined and “activities can resume with full assurances for the staff and the patrons.”

Psychedelic mushrooms are closer to medicinal use (It’s not just your imagination)

One of my colleagues from 25 years ago, with his Robert Plant hair, always told me, when he retires, he’s going to do a lot of psychedelics and have huge amps on his cottage porch.


I’ve done the psychedelic kind of mushrooms once, about 30 years ago in Wainfleet, Ontario, and it ended up with four of us running along the Lake Erie beach, terrified of a dog that wasn’t there.

I’m concerned about quality control.

My friends, not so much, so they broke a window in the cottage I owned.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking.

The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin.

Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote.

The analysis was published in the October print issue of Neuropharmacology, a medical journal focused on neuroscience.

The study comes as many Americans shift their attitudes toward the use of some illegal drugs. The widespread legalization of marijuana has helped demystify drug use, with many people now recognizing the medicinal benefits for those with anxiety, arthritis and other physical ailments.

Psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, are illegal and not approved for medical or recreational use. But in recent years scientists and consumers have begun rethinking their use to combat depression and anxiety.

“We are seeing a demographic shift, particularly among women,” said Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s authors. Among the research he has conducted, he said, “we’ve had more females in our studies.”

Microdosing, or the use of psychedelics in small, managed doses, has become a popular way to try to increase productivity and creative thinking, particularly among the technorati in Silicon Valley. It’s even a plot point in the CBS show “The Good Fight.”

Dr. Johnson said that in 2005, he volunteered to work in the “bad trip” tent at Burning Man, the festival in the Nevada desert known for rampant drug use.

For decades, though, researchers have shunned the study of psychedelics. “In the 1960s, they were on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and understanding how the brain worked,” Dr. Johnson said. “But then it got out of the lab.”

Research stopped, in part, because the use of mind-altering drugs like LSD and mushrooms became a hallmark of hippie counterculture.

The researchers who conducted the new study included Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is one of the most prominent researchers on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. The researchers reviewed data going back to the 1940s.

Dr. Johnson said that the F.D.A. had approved a number of trials of psilocybin. If its use is approved for patients, he said, “I see this as a new era in medicine.”

He added, “The data suggests that psychedelics are powerful behavioral agents.” In legal studies, he said, participants are given a capsule with synthetic psilocybin. (They are not given mushrooms to eat, which is how the drug is most often ingested.)

He warned, though, that psilocybin is not a panacea for everyone. In their analysis, the researchers called for strict controls on its use. There are areas of risk, too, for patients with psychotic disorders and anyone who takes high doses of the drug.

How mushrooms became magic

I’m a fan of Tom Robbins’ novels.

Especially his experimentation with hallucinogens and same-sex relationships in his 1976 novel, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

I once had a boss who declared that when he retired, he’d have a cabin with huge speakers so he could play Jimi Hendrix, and do a lot of psychedelics.

Ed Young, one of the best science writers around, writes in The Atlantic that if you were an American scientist interested in hallucinogens, the 1950s and 1960s were a great time to be working. Drugs like LSD and psilocybin—the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—were legal and researchers could acquire them easily. With federal funding, they ran more than a hundred studies to see if these chemicals could treat psychiatric disorders.

That heyday ended in 1970, when Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act. It completely banned the use, sale, and transport of psychedelics—and stifled research into them. “There was an expectation that you could potentially derail your career if you were found to be a psychedelics researcher,” says Jason Slot from Ohio State University.

For Slot, that was a shame. He tried magic mushrooms as a young adult, and credits them with pushing him into science. “It helped me to think more fluidly, with fewer assumptions or acquired constraints,” he says. “And I developed a greater sensitivity to natural patterns.” That ability inspired him to return to graduate school and study evolution, after drifting through several post-college jobs. (“They are not for everyone, they entail risks, they’re prohibited by law in many countries, and only supervised use by informed adults would be advisable,” he adds.)

I also tried magic mushrooms as a young adult, and it made me want the drug and dose to be regulated – but we’re running away from an imaginary dog on a Port Colborne waterfront.

Ironically, he became a mycologist—an aficionado of fungi. And he eventually came to study the very mushrooms that he had once experienced, precisely because so few others had. “I realized how pitifully little we still knew about the genetics and ecology of such a historically significant substance,” he says.

Why, for example, do mushrooms make a hallucinogen at all? It’s certainly not for our benefit: These mushrooms have been around since long before people existed. So why did they evolve the ability to make psilocybin in the first place?

And why do such distantly related fungi make psilocybin? Around 200 species do so, but they aren’t nestled within the same part of the fungal family tree. Instead, they’re scattered around it, and each one has close relatives that aren’t hallucinogenic. “You have some little brown mushrooms, little white mushrooms … you even have a lichen,” Slot says. “And you’re talking tens of millions of years of divergence between those groups.”

It’s possible that these mushrooms evolved the ability to make psilocybin independently. It could be that all mushrooms once did so, and most of them have lost that skill. But Slot thought that neither explanation was likely. Instead, he suspected that the genes for making psilocybin had jumped between different species.

These kinds of horizontal gene transfers, where genes shortcut the usual passage from parent to offspring and instead move directly between individuals, are rare in animals, but common among bacteria. They happen in fungi, too. In the last decade, Slot has found a couple of cases where different fungi have exchanged clusters of genes that allow the recipients to produce toxins and assimilate nutrients. Could a similar mobile cluster bestow the ability to make psilocybin?

To find out, Slot’s team first had to discover the genes responsible for making the drug. His postdoc Hannah Reynolds searched for genes that were present in various hallucinogenic mushrooms, but not in their closest non-trippy relatives. A cluster of five genes fit the bill, and they seem to produce all the enzymes necessary to make psilocybin from its chemical predecessors.

The rest of the article is available at

Mushrooms, some are yummy, some are psychedelic, some are lethal: I wouldn’t know the difference.

Ingestion of Amanita phalloides is responsible for a majority of mushroom-related deaths worldwide. Amatoxins, the principal toxic alkaloids found in these fungi, cause cell injury by halting protein synthesis. A possible antidote licensed in most of Europe, intravenous silibinin, is undergoing evaluation by clinical trial in the United States.

In December 2016, 14 cases of Amanita phalloides poisoning were identified by the California Poison Control System (CPCS) among persons who had consumed foraged wild mushrooms. In the past few years before this outbreak, CPCS only received reports of a few mushroom poisoning cases per year. All patients in this outbreak had gastrointestinal manifestations of intoxication leading to dehydration and hepatotoxicity. Three patients received liver transplants; all patients recovered, although one (a child) had permanent neurologic impairment.

Wild-picked mushrooms should be evaluated by a trained mycologist before ingestion. Inexperienced foragers should be strongly discouraged from eating any wild mushrooms. Health care providers should be aware of the potential for toxicity after wild mushroom ingestion, that gastrointestinal symptoms mimicking viral gastroenteritis can occur after ingestion and slowly progress to potentially fatal hepatotoxicity, and should contact the local poison center for reporting and assistance with management of these patients.

Amanita phalloides Mushroom Poisonings- Northern California, December 2016

MMWR, Weekly, June 2, 2017, 66(21); 549-553, Kathy T. Vo, MD; Martha E. Montgomery, MD; S. Todd Mitchell, MD; Pieter H. Scheerlinck, MD; Daniel K. Colby, MD; Kathryn H. Meier, PharmD; Susan Kim-Katz, PharmD; Ilene B. Anderson, PharmD; Steven R. Offerman, MD; Kent R. Olson, MD; Craig G. Smollin, MD

Listeria also in Canadian mushrooms

The food recall warning issued on June 7, 2015 has been updated to include additional product information. This additional information was identified during the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) food safety investigation.

listeria.mushrooms.jun.15Champ’s Mushrooms is recalling sliced mushroom products from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Don’t you eat that yellow snow — or wild mushrooms

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is advising people not to eat mushrooms they find growing in the wild as the foraging season begins.

Dont-eat-yellow-snow4Last year, 19 cases of poisoning relating to wild mushrooms were notified to the National Poisons Information Centre. 18 have already been notified this year, involving seven adults and 11 children.

Mushroom foraging can be done safely, but requires expertise in distinguishing poisonous varieties from edible ones.

Cooking poisonous mushrooms does not kill off toxic chemicals contained in the fungus itself, and the results can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and even liver failure.

“The high number of cases involving children in particular points to the need for parents and guardians to be vigilant and to teach children not to eat wild mushrooms,” said Ray Ellard of the FSAI.

“In our opinion, websites and books showing visuals of mushrooms are not sufficient to identify safe mushrooms and we would not recommend people to solely rely on these to determine the safety of a wild mushroom.”

Backyard mushrooms nearly deadly for Connecticut family

It was a dish made from backyard mushrooms that sent a family of four to the hospital and a combination treatment of charcoal and an experimental drug that helped save them. reports the Newington family’s harrowing tale began Thursday when Shah Noor, 40, picked some mushrooms from their backyard. She cooked them with onions, garlic and green chili peppers for dinner that night. Everyone in the family agreed that it was a tasty meal.

But early Friday morning, Noor’s husband Musarat Ullah, 59, and their daughter, Aiman Bibi, 21, had severe stomach pains and went to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. There, Dr. Danyal Ibrahim, director of toxicology, urged Ullah to call home to make sure everyone else was OK.

“When I called, I heard this hue and cry,” he said. His wife was vomiting and his other daughter, Wafa Guloona, 24, was on the floor holding her stomach. Guloona managed to drive herself and her mother to the hospital, stopping twice to throw up.

After asking what they had eaten recently, it didn’t take long for Ibrahim to focus on the mushrooms. The mushrooms were of the species Amanita bisporigera, common in the northeast. The white mushrooms are perfectly nice looking, but they’re also known as the “destroying angel” and ingesting them can be deadly.

In many cases, the symptoms — severe vomiting, diarrhea and nausea — show up within six hours. That’s actually the better of the two outcomes, and it is what happened to Ullah and Bibi. Delayed symptoms, the kind that affected Noor and Guloona, can be more dangerous. In that case, the toxins from the mushroom are more likely to attack the liver directly.

By late Friday, all four were in the hospital’s emergency department being treated with a combination of IV fluids to restore electrolytes, a charcoal solution that absorbs the toxins and a drug known as N-Acetylcysteine, which helps restore damaged liver cells.

Poop on Mushrooms? Sara Snow on Jon and Kate Plus 8

While I was working with the TV on this afternoon, I heard Sara Snow, Television host and Green Goddess, telling Kate Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8 that mushrooms should not be washed. Kate, who is raising her family on organic food believing it will make her young twins and sextuplets healthier and stronger, was clearly put off by Sara’s advice. She said the family doesn’t normally eat mushrooms, but she was willing to follow directions. Sara told her to just wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel.

While the stir fry cooked, the dialog was enlightening:

Sara to Kate: “In my opinion, if there’s a little bit of dirt left on there, it’s fine. It’s not gonna hurt anyone.”

Kate to camera: “She taught me how to clean them, which was a little disturbing to me.”

Jon in Kate’s ear: “Fungi!”

Kate to Jon: “There was dirt on them. Active dirt. And she said you don’t wash mushrooms.”

Jon to Kate: “It’s not dirt.”

Kate: “I know that.”

Jon grins: “Poopadoop.”

Kate: “I know. You see. That’s why he doesn’t eat them, he claims.”

Kate to Sara: “I don’t know if I like to eat dirt, Sara.”

Kate to camera: “I was essentially merely just wiping the poop off of them and that concerned me that I didn’t get every last speck.”

Sara responds to Kate: “I let all sorts of things fall into my food and I’m not worried about it.”

Is Sara crazy? Is Kate right? Sara concludes, “By the time it all cooks down you won’t even notice it’s there. I’ll cover it up nicely.”

That’s the point, really. If you’re cooking your mushrooms, you can kill the nasty microbiological matter. But would you pop them in your mouth raw? Neither Sara nor Kate visibly ran to the sink to wash with soap and water after touching the Poopadoop Mushrooms. In the next scene everyone was heading to the table to eat.