Autumn walkers have been warned of the dangers of foraging for wild mushrooms after dozens of people have fallen ill from poisoning this year.
According to Public Health England, 84 cases of mushroom poisoning have been reported so far this year and the foraging season is only just under way.
The health body warned that some varieties that grow wild in the UK can cause serious illness, with some even being fatal, reports the Express.
Dr John Thompson, director of the National Poisons Information Service in Cardiff, said: "People really need to be aware of the very real potential dangers.
"It is always at this time of year that we see a noticeable increase in poisoning cases. Many mushrooms growing in the wild are tasty and safe to eat, so it is not always easy to differentiate between toxic and non-toxic species even for people with experience in foraging.
"That's why we say that people should not eat mushrooms collected in the wild unless they are very familiar with the various types that grow in the UK and are sure that the mushrooms that they have collected are safe to eat."
237 cases of poisoning were recorded in the UK last year, according to the Daily Mail.
Dr John Harrison, director of PHE's Centre for Radiation, Chemicals and Environmental Hazards, said: "People heading outdoors this autumn, whether it's to gather wild mushrooms or just to enjoy the great British countryside, should be aware of the dangers that mushrooms can pose. Correctly identifying the mushrooms that are safe to pick and eat is the key to ensuring that foraging is good fun and does not endanger health."
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