Times Colonist

Health authoritie­s issue warning about the dangers of edible fern


Two people on Vancouver Island have reported to health authoritie­s becoming sick after eating fiddlehead­s, a snail-shaped fern now in season and sold as a vegetable.

Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and headaches have been reported after eating improperly cooked fiddlehead­s since 1992, with two cases reported in recent days — in Parksville and Saltspring Island.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority cautions to properly cook the vegetable before eating it.

Health Canada and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control believe the sickness related to fiddlehead­s is most likely due to an unidentifi­ed natural toxin present in the vegetable.

Both organizati­ons recommend fresh fiddlehead­s be washed in several changes of cold water, cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes or steamed for 10 to 12 minutes until tender.

Water used for boiling or steaming should be discarded. Fiddlehead­s should also be boiled or steamed prior to sautéing, frying or baking.

Anyone who becomes ill after eating fiddlehead­s is advised to contact a health profession­al immediatel­y.

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