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Muthagoose

Venison donations. Kunnari had the highest lead count!.

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I wasnt to shocked to read one of the well known butchers is listed but the highest lead count.. Not good

Deer processors did uneven job of keeping lead out

Minnesota study adds to concerns stemming from food-shelf venison

By Chris Niskanen

cniskanen@pioneerpress.com

Article Last Updated: 06/08/2008 12:39:11 AM CDT

http://www.twincities.com/outdoors/ci_9506332

When it comes to keeping lead-bullet fragments out of venison, some Minnesota deer processors are doing a better job than others, according to a Minnesota Department of Agriculture study obtained Friday by the Pioneer Press.

The agency X-rayed more than 1,200 venison samples from 39 meat processors around the state who participated in a new state-funded effort to donate venison to food shelves.

The list shows a handful of processors had no packages test positive for lead fragments.

Others, though, had 50 percent or more of their venison packages test positive for lead fragments. Kunnari Country Meats in Eveleth had the highest percentage — 77 percent — of ground venison test positive for lead fragments.

For processors that tested high for lead contamination, "it says there are some issues ... with the quality of processing,'' said Nicole Neeser, program manager of the Department of Agriculture's dairy, meat and poultry inspection and the report's author.

The tested packages were among 78,500 pounds of venison donated to Minnesota food shelves this year. No one has reported getting sick from the venison. No studies have shown links between venison consumption and lead poisoning, which can lead to nerve and brain damage in children.

But the issue is a growing concern for public health, agriculture and wildlife officials across the Midwest. Minnesota recalled 16,000 pounds of food-shelf venison last winter after its initial tests showed lead fragments in venison. The tests were sparked by similar findings in North Dakota.

Earlier this week, officials from seven Midwest states gathered in Bloomington to discuss the future of food-shelf programs and how to reduce lead-bullet fragments in venison.

The Department of Agriculture study, completed Friday, X-rayed sample sizes ranging from one to 116 packages from individual processors. Researchers collected the samples from food shelves and tracked them back to individual processors.

Overall, the tests showed marked differences between whole-cut venison and ground venison. Twenty-six percent of the ground venison samples tested positive for fragments, while only 2 percent of the whole cuts tested positive. All but five of the 39 processors had at least some lead fragments in their ground venison.

That suggests there is something in the grinding of venison that contributes to the prevalence and distribution of lead fragments.

Ten of the ground-venison processors had 40 percent or more of their packages test positive for fragments.

None of the 10 had been fined for health violations in the past year, agriculture officials said.

The owner of Kunnari Country Meats, Jack Kunnari, declined to comment on his shop's results.

But Mark Crotty, owner of Lake Processing in Hillman, east of Little Falls, discounted the results. Eleven of 15 ground samples from his shop — or 73 percent — tested positive for fragments, the second-highest percentage.

"I think they're making something out of nothing," Crotty said of the study. "There's no way you can get all the lead out of venison. Most of what we're talking about you can't see with the naked eye."

Crotty said he and his extended family shot 23 deer; his family, with three children, eats up to six a year.

"None of us have ever gotten sick,'' Crotty said. "We eat a lot of venison. My dad has always eaten venison. He is 81. He has never gotten sick."

Jon Christensen is president of the 122-member Minnesota Association of Meat Processors. His meat shop, Erdman's Country Market in Kasson, near Rochester, also showed up on the list of processors that had lead-contaminated meat. Seven of 20 tested ground-venison samples, or 35 percent, showed lead fragments.

"What can I say?" Christensen said when told of the positive tests. "We pride ourselves on keeping our products clean." He said his ground venison is ground twice and pressed through a grinder with one-eighth-inch holes.

"These particles have to be very small,'' he said. "I never anticipated something like this. The processors I've talked with are very concerned about this."

Heidi Kassenborg, report author Neeser's boss and director of dairy and food inspection for the Department of Agriculture, said the public shouldn't reach conclusions about individual processors in the study.

"It says on that one day, these were the individual results,'' she said. "The majority of our processors are good processors."

Kassenborg said the Department of Agriculture is deciding its next step. The agency likely will draw up processing guidelines for venison processors handling food-shelf venison. However, there are no plans to test venison in hunters' freezers for lead. That would be up to the Department of Natural Resources, Neeser said.

Chris Niskanen can be reached at 651-228-5524.

To view a sample of processors, click the link: http://www.twincities.com/portlet/ar...shipId=1974924

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I would say it is more the hunters that shot up the deer before they dropped them off to be donated. Last I heard they dont grind the heart lungs and ribs or the head of a deer to make burger. There were probably more that a few guys that shot up deer then decided to donate it instead of dealing with the mess.

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Im sure your right about being shot up.

Yet its the lack of concern/prep before grinding that allows lead levels to 77% don't ya think? Makes me glad we've always done our own.

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some of it could be due to lack of prep but I still think the only way to keep the lead out of the meat is to not put it there. I dont think they are talking about pieces of lead big enough to be seen with your eyes. I havnt heard reports of any broken teeth or anything. I also do all my own butchering and sausage making/ smoking. I know what has been done to the meat in my freezer.

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I have always been an advocate of the head shot it keeps the lead out of the meat,and with a head shot you never ever have to track them or wonder where they fell down. It's always in the spot they were standing.

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I have always been an advocate of the head shot it keeps the lead out of the meat,and with a head shot you never ever have to track them or wonder where they fell down. It's always in the spot they were standing.

Head shots arent as good as you think they are. I have personally put 2 deer out of there misory because of either a lower jaw missing, or part of its head with a hole in it! These were deer shot from the previous weekend, so they suffered a whole week that way! Its not a 100% kill shot!

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A head shot is almost 100 percent fatal if it is taken from the right angle. I like to shoot when the deer is looking straight at you. The best shot is still the broadside through the chest though. Most hunters arnt capable of hitting a target as small as a deers head with enough consistancy to make it a wise choice.

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Very few hunters are skilled enough to attempt a head shot.

SFG being you do your own then you will agree that trimming out any trauma is standard at home. Its easy enough to do and is it what one would expect them to be doing for the $ they charge..

OR is it that the butchers know its going to be a food shelf job and dont take the time to do it right ???

This is not speaking very highly of the quality of work being done overall.

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I shoot Barnes Triple Shock, 100 % copper so there's no lead. BTW they work great in my 300 WSM. I'm sure in a few years will all have to be shooting non tox for deer.

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I agree with trimming the shot up parts off but when some clown emptys a clip into a running deer the whole [PoorWordUsage] thing is shot up. So instead of taking it home they just drop it off.

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Not trying to knock butchers, but they also get paid by the pound, which may lead some (definitely not all) to grind all they can instead of being a little more careful.

DD

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The next step is to do a study from those who do their own processing.

I'd volunteer a package from my freezer!

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I would also donate a package or as many as they would like to check and I'll bet my numbers are very low to nothing.

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It would be interesting to see what the results are from testing from private feezers!!!

I think the MN DNR did do some of that from DNR hunters freezers - and still found lead!!!

I think whats happening with the meat processors is that if they're grinding 10 deer that day, and the second one has a chunk of lead in it, then it caught in the grinder and spread thru the rest of the deer.

It will be interesting to see some of the test results when they compare lead fragments from animals shot with high power rifle bullets vrs shotgun slugs.

We haven't heard the last of this!!!

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I would be willing to give a couple packages as well! I am pretty sure mine would be around "0 lead" we are carefull while cleaning are meat. If it is even close to the wound it gets cut out and thrown for the birds to eat!

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I would also donate a package or as many as they would like to check and I'll bet my numbers are very low to nothing.

That's what I thought too but my 100 grain ballistic tip proved otherwise. Overall, the home ground meat wasn't much different than the average for commercially ground; they both had lead. Granted, the fragments were small but they were there.

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So, lets say I have a very small amount of lead in my own processed meat, will I get sick?

I have been eating venison for approx 45 years and I really wonder how much or what the effect of the lead is or will be. I really see a new bullet in the near future from these reports and I'll bet the price will be something else also.

Maybe its good 80% of my deer are harvested by archery.

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I wonder how the numbers can be that high? If I shoot a deer, the bullet goes through the heart, or lungs, and not into any meat, and by chance if the bullet would hit the front shoulder, I will throw the front quarter away. Lets say I missed a small chunk of lead, how would that small chunk end up in more then 1 package? Could some of these grinders have lead in them? I cant imagine having anywhere near 4 out of 10 packages having lead.

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Your doctor can order a simple blood test to check your lead levels.

normal levels are <10 µg/dl

If indeed lead is found in our own "home butchered" meat, then we have a serious problem.

(I would bet if you know a veterinarian or chiropractor, you could have a package or two x-rayed for a nominal fee.)

Here is a copy from another site:

Quote:
HEALTH EFFECTS AND TREATMENT

Although at high levels(>70 µg/dl) lead can cause kidney failure, coma and death, those levels are extremely rare these days. While adults exposed most intensely to lead, most often at work, can have high levels, almost all children with lead poisoning today have much lower levels, and at these levels lead poisoning does not manifest life-threatening symptoms. Because of this, a blood lead test is the only way to know if a child living in an high-risk home actually has an elevated lead level. Blood levels in children even below the 10 µg/dl cutoff have been documented to have small effects on future cognitive function, and there does not appear to be a threshold below which no effects are present. The duration and timing of exposure also appear to modify the effects of the poisoning ? longer exposure is thought to be more damaging, and elevated lead levels at two years of age are thought to best predict the effects on IQ.

The pharmaceutical treatment for lead poisoning is chelation therapy. While chelation is thought to prevent further damage from occurring, it cannot undo damage that has already occurred. More-over, almost all children with lead poisoning in Oregon these days have levels well below the threshold for which chelation therapy is indicated and approved (45 µg/dl). These facts underscore the importance of activities to prevent lead poisoning from occurring in the first place, including identification and control of the hazard, and efforts to encourage appropriate iron and calcium intake.

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I asked a DNR buddy about this and its more than trace amounts that they are finding its chunks of lead in some of the testing. Which confirms my feelings of reluctance, having some one else doing the trimming and grinding thats in a hurry aint happening.

Which would be worse eating a sinker or touching it?

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