How a deadly lunch slowed mushroom sales in Australia
A festival dedicated to mushrooms will take place for the first time just weeks after a deadly lunch killed three Australians and left another fighting for his life.
The Australian Mushroom Festival will be held next month at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets, where growers will attempt to dispel recent public misconceptions about mushrooms.
Organizers insist the mushroom celebration was two years in the making, long before an ill-fated family lunch in regional Victoria ended in tragedy.
Mother-of-two Erin Patterson, 48, remains at the center of a now infamous lunch at her home in Leongatha, in Victoria’s south-east Gippsland region, on July 29, which left three of his former in-laws died of suspected mushroom poisoning.
Don and Gail Patterson and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, became seriously ill and died just days after the luncheon. Heather’s husband, Ian, suffered liver failure.
Mushroom sales have fallen by up to 10 percent since then, with growers keen to show how to eat them safely.
Mushroom sales plummeted following the Leongatha tragedy. Pictured is Erin Patterson who prepared the ill-fated meal
The October 13-14 event has been hailed as one of the most delicious events on the gastronomic calendar.
“This exciting event will delight mushroom lovers of all ages with something for everyone, including a vibrant mushroom market with a variety of mushroom-related products and experiences showcasing the talents of local growers and growers, celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations, grow rooms, food and more food,” an event description reads.
Guest speakers are expected to discuss the impact of the Leongatha lunch on growers and the commercial mushroom industry.
“Let’s be honest, a regular person will now see mushroom burgers and say ‘oh my God’,” Kura Antonello, of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, told NewsCorp.
Mushroom growers hope to boost the reputation of their mushrooms at a festival in Melbourne next month (stock image)
Erin’s former in-laws, Don and Gail Patterson (pictured), died a week after attending the luncheon
Leah Bramich, Managing Director of AMGA, added: “We are fortunate to have the highest quality, delicious mushrooms grown by experienced mushroom growers.
Highlights include masterclasses, live cooking demonstrations and an aisle full of vendors offering mushroom specialties including lattes, gin and desserts.
Attendees can also talk to mushroom growers and learn how the agaricus variety is grown in controlled environments.
It comes after a mushroom grower recently revealed it was “actually impossible” for a dead mushroom to end up in bud varieties sold in supermarkets.
Georgia Beattie told ABC Radio National that commercial button mushroom farms are not designed to grow deathcaps.
“This death fungus is a special species that we call symbiotic and it needs a tree to grow,” she said.
“We have several checkpoints at the (distribution center) as well as before (the mushrooms) enter the store. If someone wants to do something, we can capture it very quickly.
“There is now rigor around these certifications and processes. We just recommend people buy Australian grown produce and not forage.
Ian Wilkinson and Heather Wilkinson (both pictured) became seriously ill. Mrs Wilkinson died while her husband suffered from organ failure