Survey of 10,000 People Confirms a Mushroom is a Mushroom

Nammex, the premier North American supplier of Certified Organic Functional Mushroom Extracts, commissioned a survey of 10,000 people in the US on mushroom terminology that makes the consumer’s definition of what a mushroom is clear: it’s a mushroom.

A diversity of mushrooms are arranged on a white background.

“We commissioned this survey as a logical extension of our campaign for clarity and accuracy in mushroom product labeling,” said Skye Chilton, Nammex CEO.  “While the industry debates whether or not it’s acceptable to state or imply that mycelium-containing products are mushrooms, we thought knowing what consumers actually think was important information for the industry to have.”

In the survey, respondents were asked if they knew what a “fruiting body” was; 71.5% said they did not know. They were then shown a photo of a variety of mushrooms and asked “what are these?” The percentage of people who identified them as “mushrooms” was telling: 90.1%. A further 12.3% identified them as fungi, and 2.8% as “fruiting body.”

A bag of rice on a wooden table.

The next photo showed mycelium growing on a grain substrate in a plastic bag, with the question “is this a mushroom?” While 20.7% identified the myceliated grain as a mushroom, 79.3% checked the “not a mushroom” box. The main reasons given by the people who identified the myceliated grain as a mushroom were the context of the survey or knowing mushrooms grow from mycelium from having used mushroom growing kits.

“This data confirms that the vast majority of consumers have a fairly specific idea of what constitutes a mushroom, and it’s not myceliated grain,” Skye said. “As we have said all along, to the industry and to FDA with our Citizen Petition asking for labeling clarity, it’s essential to be fair to consumers and not imply they are getting something they are not when they buy a product. It’s not only ethical, it protects the industry from losing their trust.”

Of the 10,000 respondents, 45% were male, and 55% were female. Ages were grouped from 18-34 (47.7%), 35-44 (23.3%), 45-54 (14.1%), and 55+ (14.6%). The survey was conducted in mid-2023 by the respected consumer research company Prolific.

Nammex Files Citizen Petition Requesting FDA Actions on Mushroom Product Labeling

Nammex, the premier North American supplier of Certified Organic Functional Mushroom Extracts, has filed a Citizen Petition with FDA requesting the Agency to address the mislabeling of dietary supplements and functional foods as “mushroom” or containing “mushrooms” when they contain other fungal parts, and do not contain “mushrooms” as claimed, or fail to disclose added grain ingredients.

For many years, Nammex has been advocating for full transparency in product labeling and urging companies in the industry to identify ingredients from fungi according to the part of the fungal organism from which they are derived, consistent with FDA’s labeling requirement for botanicals. While there has been some, although limited progress, in light of ambiguity in FDA’s labeling regulations and compliance policies, Nammex Founder Jeff Chilton decided that it was time to raise public awareness and request guidance as well as increased attention from FDA to ensure industry compliance.

Given the explosive growth the mushroom category is undergoing and entry of new companies marketing products with fungal ingredients that may not be aware of the regulatory requirements, it made sense to undertake this action now. We hope to raise awareness of the mislabeling problem that exists today in the US, and obtain FDA regulatory guidance on the labeling of mushrooms and other fungal ingredients to ensure truth-in-labeling,” Jeff said. “When consumers buy a product labeled as “mushroom”, they should feel confident that they are getting a genuine mushroom product.”

According to Nammex’s regulatory counsel, Holly Bayne of the Law Office of Bayne & Associates, “Citizen Petitions provide a public forum through which interested parties can request FDA to issue or amend a regulation or take other administrative action. As the petition has made clear, remedial action from FDA is warranted, including revisions to the Agency’s compliance policies to ensure foods and dietary supplements containing fungal ingredients are accurately labeled and not misbranded. We look forward to engaging with FDA on this important issue.”

The petition asks FDA to correct ambiguity in the dietary supplement labeling regulations to clarify that proper listing of ingredients from fungi on product labels includes identification of the part of the fungal organism from which the ingredient is derived. Nammex also requests that FDA issue industry guidance regarding the proper labeling of fungal ingredients, including a Glossary of Mycological terms. Further, Nammex requests that FDA increase regulatory enforcement to ensure foods and dietary supplements containing fungal ingredients are accurately labeled, and take appropriate action against products labeled as “mushroom” when they do not contain mushrooms as claimed, but contain other fungal parts, such as mycelium, and fail to identify the presence of grain in product.

The Agency has 180 days to respond to the petition. Nammex intends to keep the industry informed though out the process.

Nammex Achieves a Breakthrough in Mushroom Cultivation

Cultivated Turkey Tail is Available for the First Time

After three years of research and development, Nammex – an organic mushroom extract ingredient supplier – has achieved a breakthrough: Close to 80 tons of fresh Trametes versicolor, commonly known as turkey tail, have been cultivated and harvested for commercial purposes this year.

With that, Nammex is the first and only company in the world to cultivate turkey tail on a commercial basis. While wildcrafting is commercially viable in Asia, foraged mushrooms suffer quality issues – from differing substrates, adulteration with look-alike species, as well as possible mold contaminants and heavy metals accumulation.

turkey tail mushroom cultivation and growing

Nammex avoids issues associated with wildcrafting by growing turkey tail on an enriched sawdust substrate in an optimal growth environment; therefore, Nammex mushrooms are free from contaminating molds and insects, contain lower heavy metals, and are correctly identified 100% of the time.

“We’re able to harvest close to 80 tons now and plan to double that figure by next year,” says Nammex President, Jeff Chilton. “This will make a key organic mushroom extract exponentially more available to health and wellness companies that use our organic extracts in their branded retail products.”

Turkey tail, which has been used as an immune system potentiator in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, often grows wild in clusters on tree trunks and logs on both living and dead coniferous and deciduous trees. A small, thin-fleshed species with pores instead of gills, it can be found in temperate climatic zones all over the world. Although turkey tail can be cultivated on wood logs or sawdust, its small size and low overall yields have made commercial cultivation economically unfeasible until now.

Nammex continues to set standards in the functional mushroom category. From introducing organic mushroom extracts in 1998 and validating reishi triterpenes in the 2000s, to guaranteeing beta-glucan content in 2015 and cultivating a higher quality turkey tail mushroom in 2021, the company supplies health and wellness companies with superior organic mushroom extracts.

Learn more about our turkey tail mushroom extract ingredients.

The 10th International Medicinal Mushroom Conference

China Adventures 2019 – Medicinal Mushroom Conference Details

The 10th International Medicinal Mushroom Conference

This year our annual trip to China coincided with the 10th International Medicinal Mushroom Conference in Nantong, China. This event is held every 2 years in a different country and brings together mushroom scientists and researchers from around the world. Over 1000 scientists, researchers and industry professionals submitted papers and 150 were selected for presentations. Jeff Chilton submitted his current research on medicinal mushroom product quality and was accepted for an oral presentation. Here are a few of the highlights.

IMMC10 participants group photo

First, the Conference was preceded by a 1 day seminar with Professor Shu-Ting Chang, who is regarded as the godfather of medicinal mushrooms. He has spent well over 60 years promoting the cultivation of mushrooms as food and medicine. Professor Chang has over 220 published scientific papers and authored 23 books. He is also one the initiators and editors at the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. In 2015, Dr. Chang quoted Jeff’s White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, in his keynote address to the Reishi Mushroom Association in China conference. Dr. Chang is currently 92 but still remains in good health and always has a smile on his face.

Professor Shu-Ting Chang

Mushroom Product Quality is Still a Major Issue

Professor Soloman Wasser’s Keynote opening presentation discussed the quality controls necessary for medicinal mushroom dietary supplements, based on S.T. Chang’s 5 G’s:

  • GLP – Good Laboratory Practices
  • GAP – Good Agriculture Practices
  • GMP – Good Manufacturing Practices
  • GPP – Good Production Practices
  • GCP – Good Clinical Practices

The Five "G" Guidelines

Nammex strictly follows these guidelines: growing mushrooms naturally using organic practices, processing the mushrooms following cGMP standards, QC testing in qualified laboratories, yearly audits of farm and factory, and final packaging by NSF certified contract manufacturers.

Dr. Lindequist References USP Reishi Report

Professor Ulrike Lindequist from Germany, a pharmacologist and specialist in biologically active compounds from mushrooms, plants and marine microorganisms, also discussed quality control. Her list of important Quality Control issues coincides with the Nammex industry changing White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, published in 2015, and the Nammex Testing Protocol. She also made note of the USP study of reishi products.

  • USP report that 74% of reishi products are not authentic
  • Use of validated analytical methods for testing
  • The need for suitable reference compounds and standards
  • Voucher specimens for reference materials
  • Proper taxonomical identification of species
  • Proper identification of the fungal stage: mushroom, mycelium, spore
  • Identification of substrate residues (ie. grains)
  • Proper testing for pesticides, heavy metals, microbiological contamination and adulterants like starch

Quality Problems

Jeff Chilton Presents Nammex Testing Protocol

Jeff Chilton gave a presentation on quality control for medicinal mushroom products, which was very well received. He outlined information published in the Nammex 2015 white paper and added new data on the use of ergosterol and ergothioneine as markers. All Nammex products are tested for these three most important active compounds: beta-glucans, ergosterol, and ergothioneine. A full video of the presentation will be released soon which we will embed here once it goes live.

Jeff also presented a paper that detailed the Megazyme beta-glucan test method, in place of Dr. Barry McCleary, CEO of Megazyme, who was unable to attend. The Megazyme test has become the de-facto standard for medicinal mushroom quality.

Jeff Chilton at IMMC10

Reishi Research in China

Professor Jingsong Zhang, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Society of Mycology, had an interesting talk on the level of research and production of reishi in China. He highlighted how much knowledge and understanding of mushrooms is still retained within China and the need for more collaboration with Western researchers.

  • Over 82% of reishi research is published in Chinese.
  • Four times more reishi research is published in Chinese than English, although English publications are now increasing at a faster rate. Could this be due to the increased awareness of medicinal mushrooms in North America?
  • There are 10,000 patents on reishi in China.
  • China grows over 200 million pounds of reishi per year (wow!)
  • Different strains of reishi are used for different purposes: spore production, polysaccharides, triterpenoid value

Mushroom Cultivation Progress


Exciting new information and photos showed the cultivation of 91 different species of cordyceps. This opens up a whole new area of future research on possible new and unique medicinal compounds.

Not only that, but a new method for cultivating Ophiocordyceps sinensis was presented. This incredible break-through uses ghost moth larvae to mimic natural growing conditions. To date, the company who developed this technique has produced 10 tons of dried cordyceps and they are chemically consistent with the wildcrafted caterpillar fungus.

IMMC10 - Cordyceps


The Chinese have been working for the last 50 years on large scale cultivation of morels. While there are records showing cultivation as early as the 1880’s in France, no one has been able to do it on a large commercial scale. Until now. China has gone from 3 tons of dried morels in 2012 to now over 800 tons last year. An increase of 26000% in 6 years!

IMMC10 - Morels

Cauliflower Mushroom

We’ve heard rumours about this for a few years, finally we see a presentation of the cauliflower mushroom cultivation. They grow it in bottle culture with a plastic skirt to make the mushroom grow straight up, the same method used to grow the enoki mushroom. Hopefully in the future, production will increase and at some point we will be able to obtain organic sources for extraction as there is some interesting research on sparassis crispa. Not only that, it is a delicious edible!

IMMC10 - Cauliflower Mushroom


In 2016 at ISMS in Amsterdam, we learned that the Finnish government was funding the development of chaga cultivation in their vast hectares of birch forests. Currently, anywhere from 6-30% of birch forests in Finland and Sweden are inflected with Chaga.

In Nantong, we met Eric and Otso of Kaapa Health. They work directly with forest owners in Finland to inoculate their birch forests with chaga. This creates a higher dollar value yield per acre than conventional birch timber, which is harvested for standard uses. The forest owners manage the forests and Kaapa purchases the harvested, dried chaga from them. Kaapa currently has over 100 hectares inoculated and expects to harvest over 100 tons of chaga by 2023.

Reishi Spores

At Nammex, we have strong reservations about the benefits of reishi spores, yet in China they are currently more popular than the mushroom itself. We’ve found most of the claims made for reishi spores to be unfounded and the scientific research to be unconvincing.

Some companies claim that 1kg of spores comes from 1 ton of reishi mushrooms, trying to make spores seem rare. But China is now producing a spore yield of well over 100% of the mushroom’s weight and newly developed reishi strains can produce higher amounts of spores, in one instance a 276% yield increase. We have personally visited many farms that collect spores and have measured 400 grams of spores from one mushroom! A single mushroom weighs only 80 grams. It was noted that reishi spore farmers earn 20% more than other agricultural industries (35k-56k USD per year).

IMMC10 - Reishi Spores

Mushrooms as Food Additives

Professor Miomir Niksic from Serbia showcased the use of mushrooms in different food and beverage products. Professor Niksic works at the University of Belgrade in their Institute of Food Technology.

Nammex has more and more customers producing food products with our mushroom extracts. We consider this an easy way for consumers to increase their mushroom intake and gain the benefits. Here are a few examples of the innovative way that Professor Niksic has used mushrooms in food products:

  • Add to yogurt to increase antioxidant activity
  • Add to pasta to increase antioxidant activity and decease glycemic response
  • Add to sausage, tuna, tomato paste, chicken pate, chicken soup, cream cheese to improve shelf life by inhibiting bacteria growth
  • Add reishi to beer to influence bitterness

IMMC10 - Mushrooms as Food Additives


One of the things we love about coming to China is eating so many mushrooms. All meals contain some mushroom dish whether it be a standalone dish like cold marinated wood ear, a stir fry, or any number of unique mushroom containing dish. On this trip we ate the following mushrooms: oyster, lions mane, reishi (in soup), king oyster, cordyceps, tremella, enoki, white beech (shimeji), morels, pines, maitake, shiitake, white button, schizophyllum and probably others we can’t name.

All in all it was a very fun conference. We learned a lot, connected with old friends, and made many new friends. We are looking forward to the next International Medicinal Mushroom Conference in Serbia 2021 and are very excited to have the next ISMS conference in Vancouver 2021.


Adam Chilton Meets Great Wall of Reishi

Nammex Testing Protocol Presented at Medicinal Mushroom Conference

Mushroom scientists from around the world gathered in Nantong, China, from September 19th-23rd, 2019, at the most recent ISMM conference on medicinal mushrooms. Sessions were divided into multiple categories: Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Nutritional and Medicinal Values, Biodiversity and Ethnomycology, and Cultivation.

Jeff Chilton IMMC10 Conference


Jeff Chilton, founder of Nammex, elaborated upon his previous presentation at the International Society of Mushroom Science conference in Amsterdam in 2016. Beta-glucan testing remains the Nammex primary standard, accompanied by ergosterol and ergothioneine. Using these three markers plus alpha-glucans (starch), Jeff created a fingerprint that can be utilized for quality control of commercial mushroom products.

Ergothioneine, an important new antioxidant primarily found in fungi, is now being tested and quantified in all Nammex extracts, a milestone in this category.

Jeff Chilton IMMC10 Conference Presentation

Jeff also presented research by Dr. Barry McCleary, founder of Megazyme, who was unable to attend. Dr. McCleary’s paper detailed the Megazyme beta-glucan testing method and its clear advantage for mushroom testing. Using this method, not only beta-glucans but also alpha-glucans (starches) can be determined. This means that various starch adulterants can be unmasked, an ongoing issue for mushroom products.

S.T. Chang, Professor Emeritus, a founding member of the organization, and godfather of medicinal mushrooms, was in attendance and taught a one day seminar. Professor Chang has been committed to the development and promotion of edible and medicinal mushrooms for over 60 years. In 2015, in a keynote presentation to the first Chinese Reishi Conference, Dr. Chang quoted information and charts from Jeff’s White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms.

Low Carb Magazine October 2019

Nammex featured in Low Carb Mag Sep-Oct 2019

Low Carb Magazine October 2019

China Adventures 2018 – The Reishi Harvest

Reishi is a warm temperature mushroom, growing and maturing during the summer in temperatures of 80F, and harvested in early September. With this in mind, we arrived in China on the first of September for our annual audit of mushroom farms. It had been a few years since we had visited reishi farms and we really wanted to see current practices.

Reishi is a very special species of mushroom. The botanical name for reishi is Ganoderma lucidum. Ganoderma means bright skin and lucidum refers to the shiny surface of this mushroom. So reishi is the mushroom with the shiny bright skin. That attribute along with the rams horn, spiral shaped cap make this mushroom one of the most beautifully distinctive of the medicinal species. (Please be aware that the botanical name has been changed to Ganoderma lingzhi)

The beautiful spiral shape of reishi ©Nammex

Reishi is one of the few wood decomposing mushrooms that is grown in the ground. Due to this fact, reishi farms are often moved or fallowed after 2-3 years. This is possible and economical since there is often very little infrastructure other than simple greenhouses covered with shade cloth. So reishi grows in ambient temperatures with fresh air and fresh water, no artificial climate controlled rooms or grow houses.

Organic Reishi Farm in China

Organic Reishi Farm in China ©Nammex

The first farm was a 2 hour drive from the nearest small city and was located literally at the end of a road, far back into the mountains. A small, clean fresh water creek flowed by, adjacent to the shade houses. This was a new pristine location that was created in the spring of this year. Under the shade cloth were multiple smaller hoop-style plastic greenhouses. In general, the maturing reishi were growing on either side of a central path that allowed access from one end to the other.

This system of growing is now common throughout China. A pasteurized hardwood log is inoculated with the reishi spawn in January. Mushroom spawn is live mycelium on a carrier material, in this case, sawdust. By May, the log is fully colonized with the mycelium. At this time the log is placed in a long shallow earthen row. They are perfectly spaced to maximize the surface area of each row, and are now covered with a soil casing layer that will protect the logs from drying out and also supply water as the mushrooms grow. One or two mushrooms will be allowed to grow from each log and in order to achieve this, as the young mushrooms push through, they are meticulously pruned to insure the 2 mushroom per log standard.

We were able to visit four farms and review the harvest and the growing practices. We also spoke with the farmers and reviewed their practices and organic methods.

During our visit we also visited our friend, Dr. Edward Yang, of the Shanghai Normal University’s Institute of Immunology. I first met his father, Professor Yang Qing-yao back in the early 80’s and we had a very long and constructive friendship until his passing a few years ago. It was in this lab that Professor Yang developed turkey tail and was approved as a drug in China. With Edward’s help, we are doing some very interesting testing, which we’ll be able to tell you more about next year.

Jeff, Skye, Adam and Edward

Left to right: Edward Yang, Skye Chilton, Jeff Chilton, Adam Chilton ©Nammex

Our yearly trips to China are always enjoyable, visiting new places and seeing old friends. And most of all, insuring that the quality of Nammex mushrooms and extracts continues to be the very best the world has to offer.

Jeff Chilton with Reishi Mushroom Farmer


Journal of AOAC Notes Popularity of Beta-glucan Study

The July/August issue of Inside Laboratory Management, the Journal of AOAC International, has listed the peer reviewed article, Measurement of Beta-glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products, as the second most downloaded article of 2017/2018. AOAC International is the governing body that sets the standards for analytical testing methods.

This research, carried out by Dr. Barry McCleary, one of the top experts in enzyme technologies, utilizes the Megazyme beta-glucan test to analyze products containing various species of mushroom and mycelium that are noted for their medicinal value.

Inside Laboratory Management noted the following about Dr. McCleary’s paper:

Along the same lines, in second position, an article focuses on a robust and reliable method developed for the measurement of β-glucan in mushroom and mycelial products. The medicinal properties of many species of mushroom have been valued and used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Driving interest in this second article are concerns within the regulatory community regarding health claims relating to nutritional supplements as well as the identity and purity of these products, and this relates particularly to medicinal mushrooms where the key active components have been identified as 1,3:1,6-β-glucan, triterpenoids, and ergosterol.

The results of McCleary’s research confirmed the analytical work published in the Nammex White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, and validated the Megazyme test as the most accurate test for (1-3)(1-6)-beta-glucan in mushrooms and yeast.

The beauty of the Megazyme beta-glucan test is that it also measures alpha-glucans, which includes glycogen, dextran, pullulan and starch. This reveals any potential carriers like maltodextrin, dextrose or in the case of myceliated grain products, starch.

Nammex worked with Dr. McCleary and supplied verified mushroom samples for this research.

It is now clear that the Megazyme beta-glucan method is the standard test for medicinal mushroom quality control. Mushroom and mycelium ingredients that do not measure beta-glucans should be questioned for their medicinal value.


United States Pharmacopeia research study confirms lack of triterpenes and beta-glucans in many Reishi products

In August, 2017, Nature, the worlds most cited scientific journal, published in its Scientific Reports an important analytical study about Reishi mushroom products. United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) sponsored this project with a leading mushroom scientist from China, Dr. Li Shao-ping. In their research, 19 different Reishi mushroom products sold in the USA were tested for the compounds that characterize a real Reishi mushroom (fruiting body). They used scientifically identified and validated Reishi mushrooms as their standard.

In the USP study, they utilized various highly accurate testing methods including HPTLC, Colorimetric method, GC-MS, and High Performance Size-exclusion Chromatography. The results of their study demonstrated clearly that only 5 of 19 samples could be verified as genuine Reishi mushroom. Most of the other products lacked characteristic triterpenoids and also had a starch-like polysaccharide profile that was inconsistent with Reishi mushroom.

During the study, Jeff Chilton, founder of Nammex, was in contact with USP and alerted the researchers to quality control issues including mycelium products that are grown on grain. Many of the samples they had purchased, which were sold and labeled as mushroom, were in fact mycelium on grain. More importantly, because of his long-standing work with mushrooms, Jeff was allowed to submit some Nammex Reishi mushroom extract samples.

USP made the following statement in the abstract of their research.

“ The results showed that the measured ingredients of only 5 tested samples (26.3%) were in accordance with their labels, which suggested the quality consistency of G. lucidum dietary supplements in the U.S. market was poor, which should be carefully investigated.”

3 out of the 5 samples (60%) that passed USP’s testing standards were Nammex reishi mushroom extracts.

The USP research has now confirmed what Jeff Chilton has demonstrated in his published 2015 White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, and his presentation to the International Society for Mushroom Science symposium in 2016.

Nammex commends USP for initiating this study and assisting the health and wellness industry with the validation of quality standards for mushroom products.

USP Research Article: (Nature Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 7792(2017)

Jeff talks immunity and mushrooms in Nutraceuticals World

Functional mushrooms are the premier adaptogens, a term that expresses these concepts.
Jeff also clearly discusses the importance of analysis in quality control and how recent testing methods have revolutionized the functional mushroom market. Companies now have a clear choice that can be based on the active beta-glucans that functional mushrooms are famous for and that scientific research has validated.