Detectives are investigating an alleged mushroom poisoning that killed three people and hospitalised one after a family lunch in Victoria's south east.
Leongatha women Erin Patterson allegedly hosted the lunch for her ex in-laws and their family on July 29.
"It's a tragedy, what's happened," she said to A Current Affair reporters outside her home on August 7.
Ms Patterson invited the parents of her estranged husband Gail and Don Patterson, Gail's sister Heather and her husband Reverend Ian Wilkinson to the ill-fated meal.
The lunch guests were hospitalised the following day. Gail Patterson and her sister died in hospital on August 4 and Don Patterson died on August 5.
Reverend Wilkinson is in critical condition awaiting a liver transplant.
"I pray that he pulls through because my children love him," she said.
"I didn't do anything, I loved them and I'm devastated that they're gone and I hope with every fibre of my being that Don pulls through," she said, likely referring to Reverend Wilkinson.
Police have searched the Leongatha home and the investigation continues.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Wild mushrooms spring up after wet weather and one of the most poisonous species of mushroom is the death cap, or Amanita phalloides.
The Food Safety Information Council warns that the poison in one death cap mushroom, if eaten, is enough to kill a healthy adult.
And they're found in the Canberra region, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Symptoms of poisoning by death cap mushrooms can include violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Even if symptoms subside serious liver damage may have occurred that may result in death, according to the Department of Health.
Chief scientist and director of conservation at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens Brett Summerell had told ACM that for inexperienced people, foraging was not worth the risk.
"Really the most important piece of advice is if you don't know what species of mushrooms you're collecting, and you don't know the area, and you're not with an expert, the best thing to do is not to pick them, don't take any chances," he said.
"Each year we do get lots of people that end up in the emergency wards of hospitals with a poisoning which can range from just feeling quite sick and nauseous all the way through into the worst cases where people actually die from ingesting the wrong type of mushrooms," he said.
"So caution is really important in this sort of situation."
Most deaths from mushroom poisoning in Australia result from death cap mushrooms but other species also posed a threat.
The classic red and white dotted mushroom cap, common in fairytales, is known as the Fly agaric species and if ingested this mushroom will cause severe illness.
Food Safety Information Council spokesperson Lydia Buchtmann had told ACM that foragers should exercise caution because there's "no second chances" when sampling lethal mushrooms.
"There's no way you can tell the differences, the experts can't, you can't," she said.
"And if you go out with one of these foraging groups who say they can, there's a real risk that that they can't, and you can get really sick," she said .
The NSW Poisons Information Centre receives 300-500 calls a year about mushrooms.
Professor Summerell said that if people were foraging, they should take the necessary precautions and ensure they have photographed the fungi they plan to ingest.
"It's always quite useful in these situations where we get called up to identify what somebody's eaten, obviously by the time they've eaten it we can't identify them. But if they've got photos of the mushrooms, then at least we can say, yes, it's not this one. It's most likely this one," he said.
"In the vast majority of cases, it's relatively easy to treat. And quite often, it's a wait and see game - people feel crook, feel really horrendous for a day or two."
Knowing which type of mushroom has been eaten can assist hospital staff and toxicologists in treating a poisoning case.
The Food Safety Information Council advises parents, school and childcare workers to regularly check outdoor areas and gardens for mushrooms and remove them to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning as well as protecting pets.
"It's a good time of year to go look in your yard, around your daycare center, at the local park, just to make sure that they're not around," Ms Buchtmann said.
"Don't touch it with your hand, if you are going to pick them up, do it with a plastic bag and dispose of them in the garbage. If you put them in the compost or something they'll probably reproduce."
Health advice is available 24/7 on the national poisons information hotline 13 11 26.
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