Germany: Heavy metals in mushrooms?

Wild mushrooms and, above all, cultivated mushrooms are available almost year-round in shops and restaurants. Frozen goods are also available. And they are inspected regularly.
"Fortunately, in 2016 and 2017, none of the 70 samples of cultivated and wild mushrooms tested showed a high level of pollution," says Frerk Feldhusen, Director of the State Office for Agriculture, Food Safety and Fisheries (LALLF) in Rostock.

From the retail and wholesale trade, 51 samples of cultivated mushrooms (30 x portobello mushroom, 10 x King Trumpet Mushroom, 8 x oyster mushroom, 3 x shiitake) and 19 samples of wild mushrooms, all chanterelles, were taken and analyzed by the LALLF experts. They were tested for the elements lead, cadmium and mercury.

Mushrooms absorb heavy metals via the mycelium (root system) from their nutrient substrate or soil. They naturally filter them out and absorb them in their bodies. Depending on the nature of the soil, wild mushrooms may contain higher levels of cadmium and mercury than cultivated fungi. The intake of the elements is very different, depending on the type of fungus and the levels appear to be even higher in dried mushrooms.

"Anyone who regularly eats fresh wild mushrooms should, according to the recommendation of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, consume no more than 200 to 250 g per week. For children, smaller amounts apply, depending on their body weight," says Feldhusen. "As for the occasional consumption of larger quantities, there is no reason for concern."

EU Regulation 1881/2006 from the Commission on Food Contaminant Levels set maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. For example, a maximum level of 0,3 mg/kg for lead in mushrooms and a maximum level of 0,2 mg/kg for cadmium. Wild mushrooms have a maximum content limit of 1.0 mg/kg of cadmium.

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