Hunters Get This Wrong About Serving Wild Game; Entire Family Sickened

PLUS: Safe Handling of Wild Game

NBC NEWS – Six family members were sickened with a rare parasitic disease caused by roundworm larvae after they ate kebabs made of bear meat.

A report published this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed new details of the outbreak, which occurred in July 2022 at a nine-person family reunion in South Dakota.

One family member brought meat to the reunion from a black bear hunted in northern Canada. The meat had been frozen in a household freezer for 45 days. Hunting black bears is legal in Canada and many U.S. states.

The family made kebabs with the thawed meat, alongside grilled vegetables. According to the CDC, the family had a hard time determining whether the kebabs were fully cooked, because the meat was dark in color. So it was unintentionally served and eaten rare.

A week later, one family member — a 29-year-old man in Minnesota — developed a fever, severe muscle pain and swelling around the eyes. He was hospitalized twice for his symptoms.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

“Cook Well Done: When cooking bear, use a meat thermometer and cook to 170° F, no pink remaining.” – State of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department 

The man tested positive for antibodies to Trichinella, a type of roundworm. Five other family members also developed symptoms such as fevers, headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, muscle pain and swelling around the eyes.

Two others who’d been exposed did not develop symptoms, and the CDC could not confirm whether the ninth person had been exposed to Trichinella.

The CDC tested the remaining frozen meat and detected larvae from the same roundworm species.

The agency presumed that all six family members had trichinellosis, a disease caused by eating undercooked meat contaminated with Trichinella larvae.

Such infections are rare. From January 2016 to December 2022, the CDC identified seven trichinellosis outbreaks in the U.S. involving 35 probable or confirmed cases. Most were linked to bear meat …

...article continued below
- Advertisement -


Safe Handling of Wild Game

How to safely handle deer, moose, bear and other wild game meat

State of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department 

Wild game can provide a delicious and healthy source of food, but hunters should always take precautions to minimize exposure to wildlife diseases.

The following precautionary measures are easy, effective ways to safely handle deer and other wild game:

  • Avoid shooting or handling an animal that appears sick.
  • Wear rubber gloves and a facemask when gutting or butchering.
  • Never eat the brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen, liver, or lymph nodes.
  • Bone the animal (remove the meat from the bones and spinal column).
  • Avoid cutting through bones or the spinal column.
  • If you saw off antlers or through a bone, or if you sever the spinal column with a knife, disinfect those tools before using them to butcher or remove meat.
  • Remove all fat, membranes, and connective tissue from the meat. Normal field dressing and trimming of fat from meat will remove lymph nodes.
  • Use a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach and water to disinfect tools and work surfaces.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly.

Bear Meat Tips:

Act Fast: The amount of time you take to properly handle and care for bear meat is critical. Once that bear is down, the time to properly handle your trophy and the meat is immediately.

The bulk of the annual bear harvest occurs in September, a month that is very warm and more similar to summer than fall. Some hunters are used to “hanging their deer” in November. You cannot do that with bear or they will spoil.

Remember, a bear does not have to be whole or intact for the mandatory registration process. [Check regulations in your state – HH.] Hunters may process the bear before registration and present the required parts to registration personnel (refer to the NH Hunting Digest).

Remove the Skin: If you are not able to leave the woods right away, it is imperative to immediately remove the skin, which retains heat, and gut the animal, so the meat can cool quickly. Especially if you take a bear on a warm September day, get it chilled FAST by placing in a refrigerated and/or shaded area orby packing with ice.

About Those Parasites: When you’re gutting your bear, don’t be alarmed if you see roundworms. These parasites are confined to the intestines and do not invade the meat. Most birds and animals that a hunter will harvest contain intestinal parasites.

Clean, Dry and Chilled: Once you have begun the cooling process, left the field, and taken the precautions to ensure keeping your meat clean and dry, chill the meat for 24 hours and then have it processed right away. Don’t let it “age” in coolers or outside, even in cool temperatures. Bear meat spoils more quickly than other game meat because of its higher fat content.

Cut the Fat: When processing bear, all the fat needs to be removed to protect the flavor — even the marbling. This is time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Add some ground pork to your bear burgers or sausage to alleviate the lack of fat.

Cook Well Done: When cooking bear, use a meat thermometer and cook to 170° F, no pink remaining.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -