In autumn, the hunting season is in full swing. It seems that this period is as risky for the game as for the men who consume this meat. The National Food Safety Agency (ANSES)
recalls that there is a health risk linked to the consumption of game with regard to environmental chemical contaminants (dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cadmium and lead), whether wild or farmed game. Game can be contaminated by many chemical substances present in its living environment or via ammunition.
Wild game can be exposed to contaminants present in its living environment (soil, air, water and vegetation). Regulation (EEC) No. 315/93 prohibits the placing on the market of foodstuffs containing an unacceptable quantity of a contaminant from the point of view of public health. However, in the case of game meat or liver, no data relating to the acceptable concentration or the maximum content of chemical contaminants is defined. But it appears that there is indeed a health risk linked to the consumption of game with regard to major environmental chemical contaminants: dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls – PCBs, cadmium and lead.
Fragmenting lead from ammunition contaminates meat
The data analyzed in the Agency’s expert appraisal are those taken from the inspection plans and relate to various contaminants. Whatever the contaminant studied, wild game has on average higher concentrations than farmed game. The expert appraisal highlights in particular a health concern linked to the lead present in the meat of large wild game (wild boar, deer, roe deer, etc.) which partly comes from its environment, but appears above all to be linked to the phenomenon of fragmentation of ammunition which causes high contamination values in a wide area surrounding the bullet trajectory. This source of exposure reinforces the concerns expressed by ANSES regarding exposure to lead for the general population and may even potentially become the main contributor to exposure to lead by ingestion.
Three servings per year maximum and no game for pregnant women
Various levers of action are likely to contribute to a reduction in lead exposure linked to the consumption of big wild game meat. These include the substitution of lead ammunition, the trimming of meat around the trajectory of the bullet or the monitoring of consumption recommendations.
In view of its conclusions and the large number of people concerned (1,200,000 people practicing hunting recorded in 2016, plus their entourage), ANSES recommends more complete documentation of the levels of contamination of small and large game wild by dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cadmium and lead, but also by other environmental contaminants.
Pending these data, and in particular with regard to the health concerns associated with exposure to lead through food linked to its presence in large wild game, the Agency recommends:
– limit the consumption of large wild game to occasional frequency (about three times a year);
– women of childbearing age and children to avoid all consumption of large wild game, given the harmful effects of lead observed during the period of foeto-embryonic development and during childhood.