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November 10, 1999

Hunters Warned of Possible E. coli Contamination When Field Dressing

Bismark, ND (SafetyAlerts) - Hunters need to be aware of the potential for contracting a foodborne illness when they field dress and process their deer, according to Kirby Kruger, epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of  Health.

“E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria is found in the intestinal tract of animals, and any perforation of the intestines can result in contamination of the animal’s meat,” Kruger said.   “Consumption of that meat can lead to infections that can cause diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and, in some cases, kidney failure.” 

Human infections associated with venison products have been identified in other states.  In Oregon, E. coli was implicated in improperly prepared venison jerky. 

To avoid infections, hunters should follow these precautions:

  • Always wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing deer.

  • Cut off and discard any meat that comes into contact with material from the intestinal tract.

  • Age carcasses at sufficiently cool temperatures to prevent bacteria from multiplying to dangerous levels.

  • Take care when processing venison to avoid cross-contamination of knives, cutting boards and counters.

  • Cook all venison to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Low-temperature dehydration or drying methods for making jerky are not sufficient to kill bacteria.

For more information, contact Kirby Kruger, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.328.4549.

Source: North Dakota Department of Health

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