With hunting season in full swing, hunters can benefit from several educational publications and videos related to wild game food safety offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said an agency expert based in Kerrville.
“Game meat can provide a nutritious, delicious and sometimes less expensive alternative to traditional meat products sold in the grocery store,” said Rebecca Dittmar, AgriLife Extension family and community health specialist for food protection management, Kerrville. “But safe handling and processing in the field, along with proper storage and preparation, is critical to preventing spoilage and foodborne illness.”
Dittmar said the AgriLife Extension Food Safety Education site has publications and instructional videos to help hunters ensure their own safety as well as the safety of the wild game they harvest from their hunting.
The site location is https://foodsafety.tamu.edu/wild-game-food-safety/ .
Topics addressed on the site include Texas hunting rules and regulations, basic hunting guidelines, nutrition, how to properly field dress an animal, packaging meat for storage, cooking wild game, safe handling of fish and chronic wasting disease.
Dittmar said the publication, “From Field to Plate: Benefits of Locally Harvested Wild Game in Texas and How to Keep It Safe,” provides information on the ecological and nutritional benefits of wild game, along with information on the tools needed and proper steps to be taken in the processing of an animal carcass.
“There are several color photos in the publication showing the various steps in field dressing, along with detailed descriptions of the process,” she said. “Upon harvesting a game animal, especially a large game animal, there are specific steps that need to be taken to obtain meat from the animal, and these must be done in a way that ensures food safety.”
Dittmar said the site also provides a short instructional video titled “Hunting Safety: Field Dressing Wild Game” that takes the viewer through the various steps required to safely field dress a large wild game animal. In addition to the Food Safety Education Site, this video can also be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrkTum4WaYE.
“The site also has a video from which you can learn how to properly package your meat using eight simple steps,” she said. “You only need four items, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re packaging wild game, bulk purchases from retail stores, ground meat or whole cuts – the steps are the same.”
Dittmar said the site also has information on safe home food storage, safe preparation of meat and poultry, and packaging and storing wild game at home. The video can also be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oChAoQ21b3A&t=12s.
“There is also a very interesting publication by the University of Wyoming addressing the nutritional content of game meat, including fat, protein, calories, fatty acids and cholesterol,” she said. “And, there’s a Penn State Extension publication on the proper care and handling of fish from stream to table.”
Dittmar said the AgriLife Extension Food Safety Education site also has links to other sites where there are recipes and directions for cooking a variety of large and small wild game animals.
“And since chronic wasting disease has been an issue with deer in Texas, the site also contains a link to Texas Parks and Wildlife about the disease and its management and regulations for hunters,” she said.