A 46-year-old woman dies, 28 others become ill after eating at a Michelin star restaurant

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/21/a-46-year-old-woman-dies-28-o.html

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“morel mushrooms may have been to blame” is a false statement. A better one would be “mushrooms that were mistaken for morels may have been to blame.”


It’s immorel.



Michelin star restaurant

That star doesn’t imbue cleanliness, bacteria / pathogens are the ultimate leveler of all playing fields, as the other 28 people will attest to.


Are morels one of the ones that need to be fully cooked to eat safely, though? (That said, I know there are a lot of dangerous “false morels” out there.)


‘The restaurant is closed “until the causes of what happened are established.”’

Or until, you know, ever.


The Gyromitra species are a good example of false morels. They contain gyromitrin, a toxin that hydrolyzes to monomethylhydrazine (better known as a rocket fuel). It can be removed by multiple rounds of boiling, but I’d just as soon not eat them in the first place.


Ate Saturday night, died Sunday morning. That’s pretty virulent.

It may have been staphylococcal enterotoxin. Some staph germs, when they die, they break down into a toxin that can cause extreme diarrhea, vomiting, severe gas pains, and related symptoms. The toxin is not affected by cooking. In fact, cooking food contaminated with these germs causes the toxin to form faster because the germs die faster. It sets in within 8-12 hours of eating. I’ve had 2 cases of it myself, and I was lucky. Both times I thought I would die of dehydration because my intestines were emptying me at both ends. Both times, I got it from eating in one of the high-end expensive restaurants in town. It could have come off the hands of some kitchen flunky who was in a hurry or didn’t care. Hell of a thing, but you can die because someone didn’t wash their hands or their groceries well enough.


Some fancy restaurants are a bit too “innovative”, ignoring basic rules in order to come up with something different.

False morels are a delicacy here in Finland; they’re rendered edible through air drying, and/or repeated boilings in lots of water.

They are really delicious, if you’re a fan of mushrooms in general. Typically, they’re made into a soup or a served as a garnish with meats. I tend to buy mine canned; less hassle, and they’re guaranteed safe.


That might have been what hit me in 2006, after a bad order of jambalaya at a Popeye’s in Indiana. It tasted “off” enough that I didn’t come close to finishing it, but it almost did me in just the same.


That sounds like a good plan. Otherwise, I’d want some sort of test kit if I were going to attempt to prepare them.


Oh, I am so embarrassed!


Wikipedia says:

Morchella species are thought to contain small amounts of hydrazine”

WTF!?!?!? They contain rocket fuel? And I thought those people that ate maggot cheese were bad.


Need further definition of “small amounts.” The pear you ate for lunch contains small amounts of formaldehyde. Hell, for that matter so do you and me. I, at least, do not feel the least bit embalmed. When you get to “small amounts” anything can be made to sound scary. The Food Babe has made a career out of that kind of shit.


Morels are among the safest mushrooms to hunt on your own (been doing it since I was a kid, and they are literally the only wild mushroom I’ll eat) because while there are lookalikes, they don’t look at all like a morel when you cut them open. Morels are hollow throughout, with the cap attached to the stem at the bottom, not the top. False morels will have the cap attached at the top, and the stem will often not be completely hollow, but filled with a spongy or cottony tissue. So I don’t know what kind of amateur you’ve have to be to get the wrong kind of mushroom if you’re serving morels. (Still, hunting mushrooms on your own is never a completely safe activity – it always involves some risk, so be aware of that.)


This does seem more likely to me than a morel lookalike. A lot more common, for one thing, that someone didn’t wash his or her hands well enough than that someone accidentally prepared a false morel thinking it was real.

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oooh interesting, if i ever go back to Sweden for vacation i’ll have to track some down :slight_smile:

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