Be cautious: thoroughly wash and cook fiddleheads (09/05/25)

NB 728

May 25, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswickers are reminded as fiddleheads come into season to thoroughly wash and cook them after harvesting. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary said that these food safety measures should always be taken before consuming fiddleheads.

"People should always thoroughly wash and cook fiddleheads by boiling them for 15 minutes, or by steaming them for 10-to-12 minutes until tender, before eating them," said Cleary.

Cases of temporary illness from eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads were first reported in 1994, and additional cases have been reported periodically since. Although it is unknown exactly what causes this temporary illness, Health Canada believes that it is most likely the result of an unidentified natural toxin present in the fiddlehead. Therefore, food safety experts recommend that fiddleheads always be washed thoroughly and cooked well.

"Fresh fiddleheads are a delicacy that has long been enjoyed by New Brunswick residents and visitors during the short fiddlehead season in late spring," said Cleary. "It is important to take these food safety measures to be able to thoroughly enjoy them."

More information about how to safely enjoy fiddleheads may be found on the Health Canada website, or by calling your local Health Protection Branch office.

People who believe that they may have become ill as a result of eating fiddleheads should contact their local Health Protection Branch office.


MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, Communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.