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Roadkill – this is why you should NEVER eat it

Graham Downing says it's a no and this is why

pheasant roadkill

So you’re driving along and there’s a freshly dead muntjac or pheasant by the roadside. Should you take the roadkill home for dinner? I recently received this query from a reader and had no hesitation in giving my answer.

Q: People often ask me if I will prepare birds and animals for them that have been killed on the road. I always refuse to do so because, as a shooter, I want people to buy game that has been correctly shot and processed through the licensed market. But are there other good reasons for avoiding roadkill?

A: You are quite right to warn people against eating dead animals that they find by the roadside. Invariably there is bruising and damage to the carcass, usually including shattered organs and bones, rupturing of the digestive system and extensive contamination.

Tainted meat

If an animal has not died immediately, there will also be a rapid release of adrenaline into the bloodstream that severely taints the meat. If an animal is found dead on the roadside, it is rarely possible to know how long it has been there or even how it has died. No bird or animal that has been killed on the road is fit to enter the human food chain. I would strongly recommend against a person eating it themselves.

As shooters, we take great care to produce game and venison to the highest possible standard for the consumer. We inspect it, grade it, store it at controlled temperatures and regulate its processing and distribution through the approved dealer network. The object of this is to instil confidence in the safety and quality of wild game and thereby to ensure that many more people will eat it.

A few years ago journalist Janet Street Porter wrote in her column in the Independent saying:  “My partner followed 
a YouTube tutorial in order to butcher 
a deer he had found by the road in 
North Yorkshire.”

Alan Barrell, a teacher at the game meat hygiene course for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, warned: “She doesn’t know how it died. Recently a vet was called to attend a deer injured in an accident at Wyre Forest. He euthanised it and arranged for the local authority to pick it up, but when they arrived it had gone. It could have been very serious if somebody had eaten the carcase.”