The country's top food administration has cautioned against the consumption of wild mushrooms after toxic mushrooms killed seven people and poisoned 50 in Hanzhong, in Shaanxi province.
Restaurants nationwide should avoid purchasing and serving wild mushrooms, and consumers should not pick or eat wild mushrooms due to the lack of effective measures to detect toxic mushrooms, the State Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Friday.
The statement came in the wake of a string of food poisoning incidents since late July in Hanzhong, in Shaanxi province.
The top food administration called on local supervision authorities in areas where the picking of wild mushrooms is popular to intensify efforts to warn the public of the possible harmful effects of wild mushrooms.
The only effective measure to avoid food poisoning caused by toxic mushrooms is to avoid eating them, the authorities said.
From July 19 to Thursday, 57 local residents in Hanzhong were poisoned after eating mushrooms picked from the mountains.
"There are nine people who are still in critical condition and are receiving special treatment. Others are recovering," the government information office of Hanzhong said in a statement.
The hot and rainy weather in July has provided rich ground for the breeding of wild mushrooms in mountainous and forest areas. Most of the poisoned residents were from the city's Zhenba, Mianxian, Ningqiang and Nanzheng counties.
Zhou Zuoming, 42, from Zhenba county, went to the mountains to pick mushrooms with his son and daughter on the morning of July 19. Then the family of four, including his wife, ate the mushrooms that evening and all were poisoned.
Even after receiving emergency treatment in the hospital, Zhou's 15-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son died on July 22, and his wife died on July 26. Zhou is in stable condition.
According to Tang Yuhu, a doctor at the Hanzhong Central Hospital, his hospital received 37 poisoned patients, including three children, aged 8 to 10 between July 19 and 29.
"An 8-year-old boy from Ningqiang county died of serious poisoning on July 26, and a 10-year-old boy was still in serious condition. The last child, aged 10, was in stable condition," the doctor said.
Some patients said that they ate the same mushrooms before and were not poisoned. However, Tang said that edible mushrooms can turn poisonous with changes in their growing conditions.
On July 27, the Hanzhong government issued a notice asking local residents not to pick and eat wild mushrooms and banned rural markets, shops and supermarkets from selling them.
The public was also alerted about the possible harmful effects of eating wild mushrooms through local TV and radio broadcasts.