DES MOINES – Morel mushrooms are classified by the Food Code as a potentially hazardous food item and may be sold only if they are first identified and found to be safe by an individual who is a certified morel mushroom identification expert. The identification expert must have successfully completed a morel mushroom identification expert course provided by an accredited college or university or a mycological society. A licensed food establishment, such as a grocery store or a restaurant, is required to maintain records on the purchase of the mushrooms, including the name, address, and telephone number of the individual who certified the morels, a copy of the individual’s certification, and the quantity and date the morels were purchased.
Likewise, the private sale of morel mushrooms to the end-consumer also should be conducted in accordance with the Food Code, which requires identification of the mushroom by a certified expert. Iowans should exercise caution when purchasing any wild mushroom as the consumption of a false morel mushroom could result in headaches, dizziness, nausea, or in severe case, liver failure. Additionally, emerging research suggests that the consumption of morel mushrooms by some individuals may result in allergic reactions.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach provides morel mushroom certification that will enable mushroom hunters to sell morels to restaurants and grocery stores or to the general public at farmers markets. Once completed, the certification is good for a three-year period. For more information about ISU’s morel certification course, contact the Extension and Outreach service at www.extension.ia.state.edu or call (800) 262-3804.
If you suspect that an individual is selling or using non-certified morel mushrooms, you may file a complaint by contacting the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ (DIA) Food & Consumer Safety Bureau at (515) 281-6096 or your county’s Food Safety Officer. For Des Moines, Lee, and Van Buren Counties call 1-800-458-6672. When filing a complaint, be sure to include the individual’s name, address, and telephone number.