February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019 2:06 PM EST
Morcheln mushroom sold on the market. (Getty Images)
A woman has died after eating a mushroom dish served at a ritzy Spanish restaurant.
According to the Telegraph, 46-year-old Maria Jesus Fernandez Calvo was celebrating her husband’s birthday at the Michelin-starred RiFF restaurant in Valencia, Spain. Calvo ordered a dish of rice and Morchella mushrooms.
Calvo, her husband, their 10-year-old son and 18 other diners fell ill, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.
The woman battled diarrhea and vomiting after consuming the dish. She died Sunday morning.
RiFF closed after the woman’s death while Valencia’s health department investigated. Regional health chief Ana Barcelo told Las Provincias everything appeared normal after an initial inspection of the restaurant.
Story continues below
Barcelo said, “analytical tests will now be carried out on the food products.” Food samples from RiFF have been sent to Spain’s National Institute for Forensic Science for testing, the Independent reported.
The Morchella mushroom is considered a delicacy. The fungus can’t be consumed raw because it contains hydrazine toxins. Morchellas, also known as true morels, are typically dried out and cooked thoroughly in order to destroy the presence of the toxin.
Health inspectors are looking to find out whether the mushrooms were prepared properly, or whether the ingredients used were really false morels, which resemble Morchellas but contain gyromitrin, a lethal toxin that can do a number on one’s liver.
Bernd Knoller, RiFF’s owner and chef, expressed “deep sorrow” over the woman’s death, noting he voluntarily closed the restaurant for inspection and is cooperating with health officials in order to “clear up the facts, with the hope that we can establish the causes as soon as possible.”