Reduction of lead contents in game meat: results of the ‘Food safety of game meat obtained through hunting’ research project
Due to its high toxicity, no safe alimentary uptake level can be defined for lead. Therefore, an effort has to be made to minimize lead intake. Game meat belongs to the foods with a comparatively high lead content. A research project was carried out to study the effect of lead-based ammunition as compared to non-lead ammunition on contamination of game (roe deer, Capreolus capreolus and wild boar, Sus scrofa) with lead. Results of the research project clearly show that lead-based hunting ammunition significantly increases the lead concentration in the game meat. The effect of the construction of lead ammunition was also studied. Unexpectedly, there was a tendency in roe deer for bonded bullets to show higher lead contamination than fragmenting bullets. No such effect was noted in wild boar. In roe deer the point of impact of the projectile appears to have an influence on the levels of lead contamination. Increased lead levels were observed when a bone hit was reported. For wild boar no significant difference in lead contamination between a bone hit or a non-bone hit was observed. Non-lead bullets in combination with suitable game meat hygienic measures can therefore be recommended to minimize the uptake of lead in order to protect the consumers.