The Sunday Telegraph

Shortage of non-lead shot could reduce game in shops

- By Henry Bodkin

A GLOBAL scarcity of non-lead ammunition could lead to a shortage of game meat on the shelves, industry leaders have warned.

Supermarke­ts such as Waitrose and leading game wholesaler­s are increasing­ly refusing to buy meats such as pheasant or venison that have been shot with lead-made cartridges or bullets.

This is because of concerns over lead poisoning.

However, continuing supply chain issues as a result of the pandemic, plus the war in Ukraine, has prompted a worldwide shortage of steel, one of the principal alternativ­es to lead.

The National Game Dealers Associatio­n (NGDA) said this meant the supply of non-lead-shot meat was stalling at a time when the public appetite for it was increasing. The body, representi­ng 30 per cent of the industry, voted to source all its feathered and fur game, as well as venison and wild boar, from lead-free supply changes from last month.

But Liam Stokes, the NGDA chairman, said: “We’re pretty much not going to be able to enforce that at the moment simply because you can’t get the ammunition. There is a shortage.”

The warning comes ahead of the start of the grouse shooting season in Britain next Friday, the Glorious Twelfth.

The global shortage of steel is compounded by the fact that using it to make shotgun pellets is more laborious and time-consuming than using lead.

The cartridges also require a type of non-plastic, biodegrada­ble wadding to hold the shot in place, of which there is also a shortage.

The shooting industry has committed to a voluntary phasing out of leadbased ammunition by 2025.

Waitrose sent a shockwave through the game industry when in 2019 it announced it would only sell lead-free meat.

Yesterday a spokesman for the supermarke­t said that despite the steel supply shortage, “we remain committed to not using lead ammunition in our supply chains”.

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