Han­dle with care

There is no rea­son why game could not be an eco-friendly source of meat as well as a ma­jor ex­port prod­uct af­ter Brexit, says Vikki Hal­l­i­day

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - GAME MEAT -

Are­cent so­cial me­dia post show­ing dressed par­tridges on the tail­gate of a pickup prompted me to en­gage with the Ed­i­tor, Patrick Gal­braith. My at­tempt to point out the pos­si­ble folly of his post re­gard­ing food hy­giene re­sulted in an in­vi­ta­tion to write about the im­pact of hy­giene reg­u­la­tion as we move to­wards Brexit.

As a vet with a keen in­ter­est in shoot­ing, I feel there has never been a bet­ter time to push game to the fore as a sus­tain­able and eco­log­i­cally friendly source of meat. We should be proud of the qual­ity prod­uct of our in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned shoot­ing in­dus­try. How­ever, many shoots will have to ac­cept changes in at­ti­tudes to health plan­ning, medicine sourc­ing and gen­eral hy­giene be­cause as we leave Eu­rope, there is lit­tle point in per­pet­u­at­ing the ex­ist­ing two-tier sys­tem in terms of hy­giene con­trols.

Cur­rently, you can shoot game for your own con­sump­tion with no hy­giene con­trols other than com­mon sense. How­ever, when you sup­ply game in any form to a third party, there are reg­u­la­tions. Sup­ply of small quan­ti­ties in fur or feather to a lo­cal pub will ex­empt you from many of the food busi­ness op­er­a­tor hy­giene rules, but you are con­sid­ered a pri­mary pro­ducer in terms of the Food Safety Act 1990 and the EC Reg­u­la­tion 178/2002 on food safety. So you do at least need to en­sure the game is safe and fit for hu­man con­sump­tion.

If you sell to any­one else — a game dealer, retail es­tab­lish­ment or an ap­proved game han­dling es­tab­lish­ment (AGHE) — you need to com­ply with more re­quire­ments in EC food hy­giene Reg­u­la­tions 852 and 853/2004. If you want to process game your­self be­fore sell­ing, th­ese rules also ap­ply and you need to reg­is­ter as a food busi­ness op­er­a­tor.

Th­ese sce­nar­ios also re­quire train­ing of hunters to be able to recog­nise signs of dis­ease in game. At the very least, one mem­ber of your shoot would need to have an ac­cred­ited qual­i­fi­ca­tion to prove this.

So how can the game in­dus­try move from small-scale sup­ply against a back­drop of our im­pend­ing move out of Eu­rope? The wild game sec­tor has lagged be­hind the poul­try in­dus­try in terms of reg­u­la­tory stan­dards of hy­giene and trace­abil­ity

“Reared game birds are pos­i­tively geri­atric com­pared with fast-growing broil­ers, which are killed at 42 days”

but, ar­guably, not in terms of wel­fare. I’d much pre­fer to know my food was ex­hibit­ing nat­u­ral be­hav­iour in the mo­ments be­fore despatch, than be faced with the less nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tive of in­ten­sively farmed poul­try.

With re­cent re­search warn­ing of the im­pact on global warm­ing

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