First le­gal frame­work for Greek mush­rooms

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY GIORGOS LIALIOS

The first com­pre­hen­sivele­gal frame­work for mush­rooms in Greece has been com­piled by the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry. Among the is­sues dis­cussed were col­lec­tion meth­ods, train­ing sem­i­nars and the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of mush­rooms, so that im­ports do not end up be­ing sold as Greek.

The work­ing group was set up last sum­mer and con­sists of spe­cial­ists and ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment. “At this time, there is no spe­cific le­gal frame­work for wild ed­i­ble mush­rooms in Greece, only reg­u­la­tory pro­vi­sions like those ap­pli­ca­ble to col­lect­ing herbs and which vary be­tween lo­cal au­thor­i­ties,” ex­plains Giorgos Kon­stan­tini­dis, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Greek My­cophiles and a mem­ber of the work­ing group. “As with all forms of nat­u­ral wealth, mush­room col­lect­ing must be gov­erned by law.”

As Kon­stan­tini­dis ex­plained, in­ter­est in Greek mush­rooms has been grow­ing over the last 15 years. “Through­out the coun­try, we have es­tab­lished 10 my­cophile clubs which have held more than 250 mush­room festivals that have been very well at­tended. We give ev­ery­one the op­por­tu­nity to come to the for­est to pick mush­rooms and learn what’s ed­i­ble and what’s dan­ger­ous. At the same time there are many, mostly fam­ily-run busi­nesses in­volved in the col­lec­tion, stan­dard­iza­tion, pro­cess­ing and sale of mush­rooms, while we have cat­a­logued around 60 Greek mush­room prod­ucts, some of which are very orig­i­nal.”

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of mush­room col­lec­tors is one of the most re­quested mea­sures. “It is im­por­tant as this will en­sure that the prod­uct which ends up on our ta­bles is safe and, more­over, that it comes from our coun­try and is not be­ing passed off as Greek,” ex­plains forester Ri­gas Tsi­akiris of the Ioan­nina Forestry De­part­ment, who is co­or­di­na­tor of the min­istry’s work­ing group. The con­clu­sions of the group are ex­pected to be ready by Fe­bru­ary. “They de­scribe the prob­lems and the im­prove­ments that can be made and in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, cov­er­ing the col­lec­tion and mar­ket­ing of mush­rooms to ed­u­cate col­lec­tors, trace­abil­ity and prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and mon­i­tor­ing for pub­lic health.”

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for mush­room col­lec­tors, how­ever, should not be pro­hib­i­tive for the ama­teur col­lec­tor. “We pro­posed to ex­empt res­i­dents of re­mote ar­eas, who for­age to cover their needs,” says Kon­stan­tini­dis. “But those who collect mush­rooms to sell to restau­rants, shops or com­pa­nies should be trained. At this time of year, there is great in­ter­est, since many can earn money by col­lect­ing and sell­ing mush­rooms.”

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