AgriLife stock

November and December not only mark the holiday season in the Davis household, but also hunting season. With hunting season now in full swing, it is important to keep a few safety tips in mind to ensure your harvest remains safe to eat.

When in the field, never shoot, handle or consume any wild animal that appears sick. Contamination can occur at any point during the processing of wild game. Take extra time and handle carcasses with care when field dressing.

Some things to consider: Wear gloves when field dressing, remove all internal organs and discard any meat that is bruised, discolored, contaminated with feces or intestinal contents and which contains hair, dirt or bone fragments. Remove any bloodshot areas or meat that was in contact with the bullet.

Also, avoid contact with intestines, spinal tissues and lymph nodes of animals while you work. Do not use household knives or utensils, use clean knives designed for field dressing. Be sure to remove all foreign particles and debris.

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Courtney Davis

When cleaning up in the field, be sure to properly dispose of the hide and remaining parts of the animal in an offal pit or in an approved area.

When processing and storing wild game, be aware of cross contamination and temperature abuse; both will cause the meat to spoil. Cool carcasses quickly, keep them cool during transport and keep them out of direct sunlight. Cool the carcass by propping the chest open with a clean stick and allowing air to circulate.

Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment used in the processing of the animal. Wash your hands, knife, cutting boards often with warm soapy water.

Packaging and storing meat is important in the overall quality of the product. For immediate use, store meat in the refrigerator and use within a few days. If freezing, divide the meat into smaller portions then package.

It is recommended to use moisture-proof wrap such as heavy wax paper, laminated freezer wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer-weight polyethylene bags for freezing meat products. Make sure to get all the air out of the packages prior to sealing them. It is important to label the packages with contents and date.

Cook all wild-game products to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

While this process may seem daunting, it is important to maintain a product that is safe for consumption.

For more information on safe handling of wild-game products, visit https://bit.ly/2Skhd6S. For more information about general food safety or safe home food storage, contact me at 940-349-2882 or cmdavis@ag.tamu.edu.

COURTNEY DAVIS is the family and community health county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension.

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