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Meat from wild ungulates: ensuring quality and hygiene of an increasing resource

Author(s): Maurizio Ramanzin | Andrea Amici | Carmen Casoli | Luigi Esposito | Paola Lupi | Giuseppe Marsico | Silvana Mattiello | Oliviero Olivieri | Maria Paola Ponzetta | Claudia Russo | Massimo Trabalza Marinucci

Journal: Italian Journal of Animal Science
ISSN 1594-4077

Volume: 9;
Issue: 3;
Start page: e61;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Wild ungulates | Hunting | Meat quality | Meat hygiene | contaminants

Wild ungulate populations are increasing in Europe and Italy, with a consequent increase in culling rates and availability of their meats. Objectives of this review were to evaluate the trends of availability of meat from wild ungulates in Italy, to review the present knowledge on nutritional properties, sensorial characteristics, and hygiene problems of wild ungulate meat and to examine the critical steps that influence their hygiene and quality. Wild ungulate meat in Italy derives mainly from wild boar, roe deer and red deer and its availability has been increasing in the last decade. Total consumption of wild ungulate meat is low (0.1-0.3 kg per capita/year), but in some regions rises to significant levels, especially for hunters’ families (1.0-4.0 kg per capita/year). Wild ungulate meats generally have a low fat content, although with a certain variability associated with gender, hunting season, age and physiological conditions, and a favourable fatty acid composition. In general, they are darker, less tender and characterised by a more intense and peculiar flavour than meats from domestic ruminants. However, these properties also show a great inter- and intra-specific variability. Risks for the consumer associated with contaminants (heavy metals, radionuclides, organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls) and zoonoses are considered to be low. Critical steps from shooting in the field to the final marketing should be considered to ensure hygiene and quality of meats. Future research should focus on the variability of hunting modes, accuracy of shooting, field dressing and carcass processing, in order to understand how these practices influence the final microbiological and sensorial quality of wild ungulate meats.
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