While venison is prized meat, can you eat it raw like beef tartare? This article will discuss the safety of raw venison and more.
Raw venison might be safe if it is taken from farmed antlered animals. However, there is no current particular study on this. Raw venison from a wild caught-game, on the other hand, is not, especially when shot with lead bullets.
What about offal and internal organs? Read on to find out!
Can You Eat Raw Venison (Deer Meat)?
In the UK, deer is the source of venison. In the US, deer, reindeer, elk, antelope, moose, or caribou can be the source (source: BBC Good Food).
Eating raw or undercooked venison that comes from animals that are hunted or shot in the wild has a risk of foodborne illnesses because they can be contaminated. Venison that comes from a farmed antlered animal, on the other hand, is safer.
If you are certain you know where the venison you have comes from and the meat itself is safe, you may eat it raw or undercooked. Farmed animals like deer can be safely raised. Wild deer, on the other hand, is not the safest.
Wild game, as they’re called, don’t get any kind of veterinary assistance, inspection, or care, before and after harvest. And in the wild, processing of the carcass is usually done in a professional setting, with food safety conditions getting compromised (source: University of Florida Extension).
In 2010, there was an outbreak of Non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) caused by undercooked venison at a high school in Minnesota. As part of environment science class and physical education class, a white-tailed deer has been butchered, processed, and cooked on school grounds.
There were 7 deers that were shot and field-dressed. 6 were shot and one was hit by a vehicle. It was unclear where the meat came from.
Many students stated cases of potential cross-contamination or food handling mistakes such as using the same tongs and plate for raw and cooked venison, as well as not handwashing after handling raw venison with bare hands.
The venison was cut into cubes, made into kebobs, and grilled on gas. Some of them were undercooked. There were 29 case-patients that were reported.
All experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, fever, and bloody stools. Two of the 29 were hospitalized (source: Emerging Infectious Diseases).
According to another study, a man, 65 years of age, experienced diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. He also showed tachycardia, hypotension, and extreme dehydration after consuming venison sashimi or raw venison game meat hunted in Lana‘i, Hawaii.
The game meat was infected with Salmonella Birkenhead, a non-typhoidal salmonella most commonly found culprit of foodborne diseases in the US.
The study ended with a reminder to thoroughly cook game meat and follow safe food handling practices (source: Hawai’i journal of medicine & public health: a journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health).
Consuming raw or undercooked venison coming from animals that are shot in the wild has a risk of foodborne illnesses because they can be contaminated. Venison that comes from animals raised on a farm might be safer.
But do remember that this is not without possible risks as mentioned above. And there is no literature on the safety of eating raw venison. When it comes to venison, it’s important to think about the safety of eating it raw or undercooked. Proper and safe handling practices are also crucial.
Can You Eat Raw Venison Offal? (Heart, Liver, etc.)
According to a study, 30 carcasses from White Tail Deer shot by hunters using lead bullets demonstrated an extensive metal fragment dispersion.
The carcasses were made into ground meat and studied via fluoroscopy. The study revealed that 80% of the carcasses contained lead from the bullet.
In another experiment, the meat was fed to pigs and their blood tests showed to have bioavailable lead (source: Lead Bullet Fragments in Venison from Rifle-Killed Deer: Potential for Human Dietary Exposure).
The impact was large-scale that organs can also be affected. It is not safe to eat organs from antlered animals shot using lead bullets because lead gathers in the organs. (source: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services).
Internal organs of wild deer can get infected with Brucellosis. Humans who eat them can also get infected (source: University of Florida Extension).
Whether cooked or not, we recommend not eating raw offal and other internal organs from antlered animals caught in the wild. Some offals are a delicacy in other countries. However, if they’re from an animal caught in the wild, we recommend giving them a pass.
When buying venison or offal from deer or any antlered animal, ask if they are from farm-raised animals. This is the better choice. However, we still recommend cooking them to be safe.
Can Raw Venison Make You Sick?
Raw venison can make you sick as the second study stated above. Like any other meat, venison can be contaminated with harmful microorganisms that cause foodborne diseases in humans.
This can be caused by the meat itself being contaminated, or improper handling techniques observed like not wearing a glove, not washing hands after handling raw venison with bare hands, or using cooking tools for both raw and cooked meat.
We recommend buying venison from farm-raised animals and cooking them to be safe. We hope this helps!