Prior to entering the food chain for human consumption, hunted game must first undergo a series of inspections. The first of these is performed in the field by ‘qualified persons’ who are trained by the National Hunt Training Organisation (Stichting Jachtopleidingen Nederland, SJN). Based on the finding of abnormalities or no abnormalities the qualified person decides whether the carcase can be sent to the approved game-handling establishment where further inspection is performed by a representative of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).The internal organs are typically removed in the field and disposed of separately. When abnormalities are observed the carcase is handed over to the NVWA who may perform further tests before deciding whether or not it can enter the food chain. The costs of this extra step are often prohibitive. In-line with EU policies, all steps in this process are electronically traceable as long as each game animal is uniquely identified and recorded in the Fauna Registration System (FRS©). A shortcoming of this process is that there is no overview of the nature of the abnormalities that lead to hunted game animals not being permitted to the food chain for human consumption. Until recently there was no way for the qualified persons or NVWA employees to learn more about the abnormalities and their possible causes. The Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC), preferably performs post-mortem investigation on fresh, unopened wildlife cadavers. This is because cadavers opened in the field may become contaminated which can impair investigation into infectious diseases; furthermore, investigation of unopened cadavers increases the chance of identifying systemic disease and cause of death (in non-slaughtered animals).
The project ‘Food safety in the game food chain: Qualified person monitoring’ aims to improve monitoring of food safety by creating a better understanding of the abnormalities / disease status of Dutch game that lead to it being excluded from the food chain for human consumption.
The project, which will run until the end of 2013, is being funded by the Dutch Ministry for Economic Affairs and will be run by the NVWA in close collaboration with the DWHC and NatuurNetwerk.
Last year, 20 qualified people working in fauna management units were trained in monitoring. They were instructed in how to describe abnormalities, take samples and make appropriate photographs.They have been provided with materials for sample submission to the DWHC and will be able to upload photos and descriptions into the electronic database, FRS© from where the DWHC will be able to view them. Received tissue samples will be examined under the microscope by DWHC pathologists who will interpret their findings in light of the descriptions and photos of the macroscopic abnormalities seen in the field. The qualified person monitor will have access to the results of the pathological investigation via the FRS©.
If you are a large game hunter in the provinces of Gelderland, North Brabant, Utrecht or Limburg (deer only), and you notice abnormalities on opening carcasses, contact your local Qualified Person (contact details can be found on www.faunaregistratie.nl).
If you still have questions about this pilot study, contact the DWHC (firstname.lastname@example.org 030-2537925)