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Meat of wild game animals should become safer

17/2023, 04.10.2023

European network aims to further reduce health risks

Game meat, including those of red deer, wild boar, or pheasant, is among the foods with the smallest ecological footprint. These animals grow up in the wild, feeding on what na-ture provides, which also means that they can be exposed to various environmental con-taminants. Furthermore, wild animals can serve as carriers of zoonotic pathogens. The Eu-ropean network 'Safety in the Game Meat Chain' that will be established over the next four years under the leadership of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR),and promotes the exchange of knowledge regarding the health risks associated with game meat obtained through hunting for consumers. 'Our goal is to make this valuable animal-derived food as safe as possible both in Europe and worldwide,' says BfR President Professor Dr.Dr. Andreas Hensel. 'We aim to minimize both chemical and microbial risks as much as possi-ble.' The growing network currently includes 29 countries, encompassing not only EU member states but also non-EU countries, including those in the Western Balkans, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.

Over a four-year period, the five working groups of the network will focus on hunting and processing, game meat trade networks and the supply chain, as well as various biological and chemical hazards. To accomplish this, research activities from national level will be compiled and evaluated. Stakeholder groups from academia, industry, governmental institutions, and final consumers will receive ongoing updates on the new findings.

A central aim of the network is direct collaboration with stakeholder groups to translate knowledge into actions along the entire production chain, “from forest to fork” . The focus lies not only on undesirable substances from the environment (environmental con-taminants), but also on preventing or reducing the input of heavy metals, especially lead, from hunting ammunition. The biological hazards range from parasites such as Trichinella larvae, which can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of game meat, all the way to bacterial zoonotic agents including Salmonella and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), as well as viruses like hepatitis E (HEV) in wild boars.

Risks of both chemical and microbial origin that may arise during processing and trade of game meat, potentially contaminating the end product, will also be assessed. The goal is to disseminate scientific knowledge gained through the network from various regions and to align long-term food safety standards across borders.

The network also aims to gather insights into different hunting and training practices as well as national legal regulations and standards on meat inspection and hygiene for game meat in each country. The safety standards for cross-border trade in wild products are intended to be enhanced and harmonized. Additionally, the network places emphasis on educating con-sumers about the risks associated with and safe handling of game meat. Ultimately, this can support the consumer's confidence in game meat products.

'Safety in the Game Meat Chain' is founded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST).

Useful links

SafeGameMeat COST Action (CA22166):

Further information from the BfR website on game meat (in German)

Q&A on the consumption of game shot with lead-based ammunition:

Various aspects of game meat and hunting:

Game meat hygiene:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


Fragen und Antworten

Date Title Size
FAQ des BfR
Fragen und Antworten zum Verzehr von Wild, das mit bleihaltiger Munition geschossen wurde 41.7 KB




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