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Food Safety Focus (146th Issue, September 2018) – Food Incident Highlight

Beware of Toxic Plants, Wild Mushroom and Wild Taro

In the last two months, several persons were reported ill after consuming self-picked wild mushrooms and wild taros. Some wild toxic plants look similar to non-toxic edible species and it may be difficult to distinguish them. Consumption of toxic plants can cause severe poisoning.

Wild mushrooms may contain different kinds of toxic substances like amatoxins, muscarine or gastrointestinal toxin which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, convulsions or even death. Wild taros may contain calcium oxalates raphide which are fine needle-shaped crystals. Consumption of food with calcium oxalates raphide can result in numbness of the tongue and swelling of lips. These wild plants can be found in countryside and are not edible.

To prevent food poisoning caused by wild plants, consumers are advised to purchase vegetables from reputable shops. In addition, people should never pick and eat wild plants as they could be poisonous.