Setting maximum levels for lead in game meat in EC regulations: An adjunct to replacement of lead ammunition
Abstract: Each year, hunters from 12 of the 27 European Union (EU) countries and the UK shoot over 6 million large game mammals, 12 million rabbits and hares and over 80 million birds. They support an international game meat market worth over 1.1 thousand million Euros. Animals shot with lead ammunition frequently contain lead fragments in the carcass which contaminate meals made from game meat with concentrations of lead substantially above the maximum allowable level (ML) set by European Commission Regulation EC1881/2006 for meat from domesticated animals. This poses a health risk to frequent consumers of wild-shot game meat, with children and pregnant women being particularly vulnerable. Total replacement of lead rifle and shotgun ammunition with available non-toxic alternatives is needed for all hunting in EU nations to prevent exposure of humans and wildlife to ammunition-derived lead and to allow the depletion of the long-term environmental legacy of lead from spent ammunition. We propose that EC1881/2006 is amended to incorporate an ML for game meats as a supplementary measure to the replacement of lead ammunition. This would harmonise food safety standards for lead in meats traded across and imported into the EU.