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New register for lead-free shoots will enable dealers and stockists to source lead-free game

Demand for birds shot with non-lead ammunition is growing

Boned pheasant

A prepared boned pheasant

Supermarkets, stockists and game dealers are increasingly switching over to purchase of game shot without the use of lead ammunition. To facilitate this, the British Game Alliance (BGA) has launched a new register to source game to service this growing market.

Shoots wanting to participate and take their place on the lead-free register need to fill out this short questionnaire on the BGA website that asks for information including the date on which the shoot went lead-free and the estimated number of birds the shoot will put into the food chain each season.

Shoots registering as lead-free will be committing to a new clause in the BGA Standard, requiring the writing and implementation of a credible lead-free protocol on their shoot days.

Commercial Director Mark Staples said: “The BGA is committed to the five-year phase out of lead, but the reality is that the food industry increasingly demands birds from lead-free shoots. Our new lead-free register has been developed alongside our partner game dealers and with input from major processors and supermarkets. It will allow us to ensure the flow of game into these significant outlets continues, boosted by the BGA’s work to promote game into all retailers and across hospitality, while we work to support the marketing of game for the whole shooting sector as we all pull together towards the phase out of lead.”

“Nothing to be feared in going lead-free”

Dr Mike Swan of the GWCT commented to Shooting UK: “In my opinion there is nothing to be feared in going lead free; I have been a lead-free wildfowler for the last 25 years, and I don’t notice any real difference in performance. Lead is toxic, and we need to make sure that the game consuming public are confident that their food is not contaminated.”

The National Game Dealers Association has recently said that its members would only accept lead-free game from 1 July next year. It explained that the decision was made in order to “future proof the sale of game meat in their customers’ businesses, and to ensure continued consumer growth from those people seeking to enjoy our healthy delicious game products”.

BASC, the Countryside Alliance, the British Game Alliance and the Game Farmers’ Association have said in a joint statement that: “A strong game market and acceptance of game meat will mean a strong future for shooting. The continued use of lead shot has become a growing blocker for the game market.”

The Government says evidence shows that “lead ammunition harms the environment, wildlife and people” and the review could lead to an earlier ban than the stated five-year voluntary one suggested by
the shooting groups.