The Michigan Department of Community Health recommends proper food safety practices when cooking venison, as well as any other meat or poultry. Thoroughly cooking meat is important to reduce the likelihood of any bacterial disease. All meat, including venison, should be cooked until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. If cooked according to the chart below, the likelihood of any disease transmission to individuals consuming this meat is extremely small.
For more information on venison field dressing, meat preparation and recipes, see the Michigan State University Extension publication, "Michigan Venison."
Tips for safe handling of wild game:
- Hunters should not handle or consume wild animals that appear sick or act abnormally, regardless of the cause.
- Always wear heavy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing deer.
- If intestinal contents contact meat, consider the meat contaminated; cut off and discard affected area.
- Handle carcasses properly. Cool carcass rapidly in the field (bags of ice can hasten cooling). Age carcass at or below 40°F for no longer than 5-7 days. Hang birds by feet at less than 40°F for 2-3 days maximum.
- Hold meat at or below 40°F at all times. If you don’t plan to consume or process meat within 3-5 days, freeze it. Thaw frozen meat only in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling meat and poultry.
- Sanitize equipment and work surfaces often during handling and processing meat and poultry with a bleach solution (1 Tbs. bleach to 1 gallon water).
- Use a meat thermometer to cook meat to proper internal temperatures (see chart). There are several types of meat thermometers available, which are easy to use and can be read instantly or remain in meat while it cooks. This helps ensure harmful bacteria are killed and meat is not overcooked. The color of meat is an unreliable indicator of doneness.
- For jerky, steam, boil or roast meat to 165°F using a meat thermometer prior to dehydrating. Dry at 130°-140°F until thoroughly dry. Jerky is properly dry when it cracks on bending but doesn’t break.
- For sausage preparation, keep meat cold (under 40° F) during grinding process and ensure internal temperature reaches 165°F with meat thermometer during cooking.
Recommended Minimum Internal Cooking Temperature
for Venison and Poultry
Ground venison, sausage, bologna 165°
Fresh venison (chops, steaks, roasts) 165°
Whole bird 180°
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