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23 Illnesses And Woman’s Death After Eating At Michelin-Starred Restaurant Spark Concern

There is one woman dead and 23 others have reportedly fallen ill after eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain. 46-year-old María Jesús Fernández Calvo ordered a rice and morchella (also known as true morel) dish while dining at RiFF in Valencia to celebrate her husband’s birthday with their son on Saturday.

According to The Telegraph, she died on Sunday after suffering severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is impossible to determine Fernández Calvo’s cause of death until an autopsy can be performed, as it is unknown whether she died from poisoning or asphyxiated because of vomiting.

Fernández Calvo’s husband and son also reportedly suffered “mild” symptoms, and have both made a full recovery. 21 others also report illness after eating at the restaurant, according to Spanish news outlet El Pais.

Regional health chief Ana Barceló stated that samples of the ingredients used on Saturday have been sent to the National Toxicology Institute.

Of Fernández Calvo’s death, she said:

“We will have to wait…before we can determine whether it was the ingestion of a food that directly caused her death, or whether it prompted a state that led to this fatal outcome.”

Morels are a delicacy commonly eaten in France, but they cannot be consumed raw. Cooking the mushrooms neutralizes the hydrazine toxin they contain and make them safe to eat.

The restaurant has been inspected by public health officials, but they did not find anything obvious that could have caused the illnesses.

Bernd H. Knöller, the owner of RiFF, released a statement about the incident.

He has closed RiFF until the cause of the illness can be determined, and is cooperating fully with the investigation.

“I have offered my complete cooperation to the Valencian health authority from the very start in order to clear up the facts, with the hope that we can establish the causes as soon as possible”

“Regardless of what caused the situation, I want to convey my deep regret for what happened, and I hope all of the facts will be clarified shortly.”

People are shocked by the incident:

With some people calling for punishment and understandably refusing to eat there:

Food poisoning is a serious issue and it is one that can strike anywhere. From mistakes made during the preparation of potentially toxic ingredients to unsafe storage conditions, it is surprising how easily food can become unsafe.

The hundreds of cases of food poisoning at one Powell, Ohio Chipotle Mexican Grill gained international notoriety last year largely because of the sheer number of people affected and the fact that it was so difficult to determine what had caused the illness. It has since been determined that bacteria that flourished due to food being kept at unsafe temperatures were to blame.

NPR reports:

“Health officials have determined that a type of bacteria found in food left at unsafe temperatures is the cause of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that struck 647 people who ate last month at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Ohio.”

“Local health officials say a bacterium known as Clostridium perfringens caused the outbreak.”

Five children have reportedly died in Pakistan after their family ate at a restaurant in Karachi’s business district. Police official Ameer Shaikh said that the children were 2 to 9 years old, and their mother and sister are currently still in the hospital in critical condition. The restaurant has been closed and samples of the food have been taken for testing.

Food safety is such an important subject, and one that can lead to severe consequences when it is ignored or forgotten.


Written by Winona Sioux Christnot-Peters

Winona Sioux Christnot-Peters is a writer/web designer and aspiring librarian based in Northern Maine. When not writing or in class, they devote much of their time to multiple non-profit organizations, largely focusing on LGBTQ+ rights and animal welfare. During rare moments of free time Winona enjoys video and tabletop games, as well as various nerdy fiber crafts such as crocheting (mainly amigurumi Pokémon, cat toys, and blankets) and counted cross stitch.