State officials say food pantries in Iowa can resume serving deer meat to the needy after sampling showed little signs of lead. Department of Natural Resources spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says they decided to test the Iowa venison after a warning issued about ground deer meat in North Dakota. He says all ten of the samples they took had less than one part per million of lead, eight had no detectable amounts at all, and only two had trace amounts of lead.
The D.N.R. started the “Help Us Stop Hunger” (HUSH) program five years ago to allow hunters to shoot and donate deer to the shelters. Baskins says hunters shouldn’t worry about the meat in their own freezers.
Baskins says all the meat donated to the HUSH program is ground up like ground beef, while hunters cut up steaks and loins, and much of the area where the deer is shot is cut away, leaving little lead residue.
Baskins says those hunters who do eat ground venison should follow some health guidelines. He says based on the F.D.A. guidelines, children under the age of six years can have two four-ounce servings per week, pregnant women can have one four-ounce serving per day, and all other adults, three four-ounce servings per day. Baskins says state health officials wanted to test just to be sure there would be no problems.
Baskins says since it was something they’d never encountered, they felt it was best to take some samples. He says they don’t know why venison sample in North Dakota had higher lead levels, other than the fact that deer in North Dakota are taken mostly by high-powered rifles and deer in Iowa are taken mostly by deer slugs. Baskins says the deer slugs would not release as much lead throughout the animal.
Baskins says the HUSH program helps thin the deer herd while also helping the state’s needy. Baskins says around 25,000 deer have been donated to the program and some four-point-six million servings of venison have been given out. Lead poisoning can cause significant health problems for young children and pregnant women. Lead-based paint is the leading cause of lead exposure for children.