Woman dies following food poisoning outbreak at Michelin-starred restaurant

The 46-year-old mother and 28 other people fell ill after eating at Riff in Valencia

Morel mushroom
Investigators believe mushrooms served in a risotto may be to blame
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An investigation has been launched after a woman died from suspected food poisoning following a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Valencia.

Maria Jesus Fernandez Calvo, 46, suffered vomiting and diarrhoea after eating at the southern Spanish city’s Riff restaurant with her family on Saturday night. She died early the following morning.

Her husband, who had been celebrating his birthday, and their 12-year-old son also fell ill but are recovering.

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Officials have tracked down 75 people who ate at the restaurant between 13 and 16 February, and learned that a total of 29 had subsequently experienced food poisoning symptoms, the BBC reports.

Samples of dishes served as part of a tasting menu that Calvo ate have now been sent to Spain’s National Toxicology Institute for analysis, says The Guardian.

According to news site The Local, health authorities “are exploring whether a morel mushroom risotto is the cause of the outbreak”. Investigators believe the dish may have “mistakenly included a highly toxic funghi that looks similar to a morel”, known as a “false morel”, the site adds.

“With the exception of the person who died, all those who fell ill have shown light symptoms – mainly vomiting,” the regional health authority said in a statement yesterday. “We’ve conducted a primary inspection of the establishment and everything appears to be normal. Analytical tests will now be carried out on the food products.”

Riff owner and head chef Bernd H. Knoller has announced that the “restaurant will remain closed until the causes of what happened are established” and “activities can resume with full assurances for the staff and the patrons”.

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