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Bill would drop certification requirement to sell morels

Richard Steih
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Selling morel mushrooms in Michigan could soon get easier.

Right now, people who gather and sell morels to restaurants and other local businesses must first be certified as mushroom identification experts.

Until last year, the state didn't offer a way to get that certification. Now there's a class and testmushroom hunters can take to become certified experts. It costs $175. 

Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, has introduced a bill to exempt morels from the certification requirement, which he says is "burdensome." 

"The regulation is a solution in search of a problem. We did not have a problem in Michigan with the purchasing and selling of morel mushrooms, and yet, this regulation was put in place," Cole said.

Cole says the "commonality and unique identification" of morels make them ideal candidates for exemption, but the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has some concerns with the legislation.

"Our concern is to protect public health and ensure food safety. Quite often true morels can be confused with false morels. We want to make sure people understand the differences when selling wild forest mushrooms," MDARD communications director Jennifer Holton said.

According to Midwest American Mycological Information, there are several types of mushrooms that look similar to morels and fruit around the same time.

But Rep. Cole says restaurants and businesses that purchase morels from mushroom hunters year after year know what to look for.

"They know exactly what they're buying, why they're buying it, how they're going to preserve it and how they're going to serve it," Cole said.

The bill would remove the certification requirement for morel mushrooms only. People who want to sell other types of wild mushrooms would still need to get certified.

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