Research report

​Microbiological risks from the production and consumption of uneviscerated small game birds compared to eviscerated small game birds: A qualitative risk assessment

Summary

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
Horigan, V ; Simons, R; Davies, R;
University of Strathclyde
Kelly, L;
Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
Irvine, R;
Consultant
Mead, G

The aim of this project was to assess the microbiological risks of six key pathogens from the production and consumption of uneviscerated small game birds (i.e. where the internal organs are not removed before consumption), and eviscerated birds.

The results of the risk assessment suggested that large outbreaks of zoonotic infection among UK consumers due to small game bird production and consumption are unlikely. However, sporadic individual infections may occur due to combinations of ‘rare-event hygiene-related issues’ in the ‘field-to-fork’ chain.

Examples include lead shot puncturing the gut wall and the bird being hung for a long period of time at temperatures that would allow the growth of the pathogen. Other causes may be inadequate cooking of the game bird in or outside the home.

The overall risks to the UK consumer for the majority of the pathogens/species considered were very low. The highest risk was for campylobacter due to consumption of eviscerated woodpigeon and mallard outside the home, which was assessed to be of low to medium risk.

The high number of these two bird species consumed and the ability of campylobacter to infect humans at low levels, combined with the tendency to eat game bird meat ‘pink’ outside the home, all contribute to the increase in risk for these pathogen/species combinations.

The evidence gathered did not suggest that there was a much greater risk associated with the consumption of uneviscerated game birds, compared with eviscerated game birds. In some pathogen/species combinations the evidence even suggested that the risk from eviscerated game birds may be slightly higher.

Project Code: FS245027

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