Food safety for hunting
Here are some things you can do to make sure the game you bring home is safe to eat.
Risk of disease spreading between people and animals
Choose a topic
Possible health effects
Wild game provides a major source of vitamin A, C, calcium, iron and protein and is beneficial to your health. However, wild game can be contaminated by chemical contaminants or natural toxins, parasites and bacteria. In addition, once the animal is killed there is an increased risk of contamination associated with the handling of the meat from the time it is caught to when it is prepared.
Some game such as bears or hares are recognized as hosts of certain parasites or diseases. Eating contaminated wild game can make you sick; therefore, you should always thoroughly cook game meat.
Bring these things when you go hunting to minimize the risk of contamination and spoilage:
- steel shots, instead of lead
- sufficient drinking water
- sanitizer or liquid hand soap to clean hands and tools
- clean cloth or paper towels
- sharp knives and bone saw
- rope to hang the carcass
On the land, it is important to pay attention to animals' appearance and behaviour in order to identify those that may be sick. Do not kill animals that appear to be sick.
Typical signs of sickness in animals may include:
- general poor physical condition (for example, animal appears weak, sluggish or have weight loss)
- swellings or lumps
- hair loss
- blood or discharges from the nose or mouth
- abnormal behaviour, like aggressiveness
Never handle or eat an animal that has died from unknown causes.
Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the risks when handling wild game:
- wash and sanitize all equipment used to handle game before and after use
- wash hands with soap and warm water to a slow count of 20 before and after handling game
- wear heavy duty or cut resistant gloves when handling wild animals to avoid contamination; this is especially important when handling small game like muskrat or waterfowl, or animals that appear to be sick or are acting abnormally
- bleed and remove the intestines and stomach as quickly as possible
- cool the carcass by keeping the chest open or by cutting the carcass in halves, quarters or smaller pieces
- keep hide on the animal to protect the meat and transport the carcass in a well-ventilated car, keeping it cool and covered until you reach home
- all game should be gutted and refrigerated within a few hours of the hunt to avoid spoilage
Storing and cooking
- refrigerate at 4°C (40°F) or lower and use within 2 to 3 days
- freeze at -18°C (0°F) or lower for later use
- cook to the recommended minimum temperature to kill any parasites or bacteria that may be present
Thank you for your feedback