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Deadly mushroom meal prepared in Australia bistro

06 january 2012, 18:05
©REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico
©REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico
A New Year's Eve meal containing Death Cap mushrooms that left two Chinese people dead was prepared by a chef for his co-workers at a Canberra restaurant,AFP reports citing health officials.

Chef Liu Jun and kitchen hand Tsou Hsiang were named as the victims of the fungi used in a dish at the Chinese Bistro in the Harmonie German Club.

Three people were initially hospitalised after eating the mushrooms, unaware of its deadly properties. Liu and Tsou died while the third remains in a critical but stable condition.

The Australian Capital Territory Health Directorate said the food containing the mushrooms was prepared at the club but there was no risk of wider contamination.

It is believed that the poisonous mushrooms were mistaken for an edible fungi known as the Paddy Straw mushroom, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia and considered a delicacy.

All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous and eating just one of the silky white-to-greenish-brown capped, white-gilled fungi can be fatal.

Harmonie German Club acting manager Mick Thamer told reporters the food was prepared for a private meal.

"The mushrooms were brought into the club for a private meal only, and cooked after bistro hours by the chef for his co-workers," he said.

"It was not a meal on the bistro menu, and was not a meal that was offered to or available to the public."

A friend of the victims, Tom O'Dea, said Liu was working temporarily in Australia to raise money for his family living in China.

"He's got an 11-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son, they haven't seen him for three or four years or something since he's been here because he's just been working and sending money home," he told ABC radio.

O'Dea said the fungus was remarkably similar to a delicacy regularly consumed in China.

"It's just mistaken identity. Liu Jun would have been walking past it, picked it up," he said

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