= Safety of hunting and cutting up deer meat =

I copied and pasted from some sites that I think you would want to know -- on how to process deer meat and to prevent you from getting sick.  So if you are hunting for a deer and want to eat its meat, please read below very carefully or go to search engine for it.

Have a safe eating...

The story says that was the first documented case in which animals other than cattle had been identified as the source of E. coli O157:H7 infections in humans.

Because E. coli is found in the intestines and feces of animals, hunters need to be especially cautions with deer that are shot through the gut. The practice of hanging the carcass for a day or two to tenderize the meat can allow E. coli bacteria on the carcass to proliferate, Keene said.

The Oregon case also raised questions about the safety of home dehydration devices used to dry meat. In laboratory tests, the Oregon researchers found that E. coli O157:H7 survived more than 10 hours of drying at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keene noted that many jerky recipes call for less time and heat and are not adequate for contaminated meat.

To be certain that all E. coli organisms are killed, meat must be heated to 160 degrees.

1. Never harvest or eat wild game animals that appear sick.
2. Wear latex or plastic gloves when field dressing and processing game.
3. Clean meat carefully and cool the carcass as quickly as possible after killing.
4. Use clean equipment for butchering and carefully clean the equipment before and after working with carcasses.
5. Always cook game meat thoroughly before eating.

Field Dress and Cool Game Quickly - Be sure to field dress your game as soon as possible and as the name says this is done in the field. The use of rubber or latex gloves is always recommended for cleaning wild game. After field dressing, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and be sure to cool the carcass promptly. If taken to a processor, the processor will cool the entire carcass until the processing is conducted. If you process your own meat, skin and thoroughly wash the animal, then cut into smaller sections which may be refrigerated promptly. Meat left at warm temperatures will allow rapid harmful bacteria growth and may lead to spoiling of the meat.

Take Game Promptly To Refrigeration Source (Especially during Warm Weather) - Make every effort to transport your field dressed game to a refrigeration source as soon as possible. Especially important during warm weather, the field dressed game should be immediately taken to a processor with refrigeration capabilities, or processed and refrigerated as soon as possible. As with all meats, harmful bacteria may begin to multiply soon after harvest and continue until the products are refrigerated. If you plan to travel long distances with your dressed game, bags of ice put into the dressed cavity will help cool the meat.

Wash Processed Game Thoroughly Before Refrigeration and Freezing - Thoroughly wash (rinse in clean potable water) all processed meat before refrigeration and freezing. After cutting smaller portions of the meats, be sure to wash off the meat before cooking/refrigerating or freezing. Rinsing the meat will dislodge undesirable particles and will remove a lot of the bacteria from the outer portion of the meat.

Refrigerate or Freeze Promptly - After washing in clean potable water, Refrigerate at 41 degrees F. or cooler, or Freeze at 0 degrees F. or colder. The quicker we refrigerate or freeze the processed meat the safer it will be. Dangerous Bacteria grow slower under refrigeration temperatures. If meat is not to be used for four to five days, freeze it.

Practice Thorough Hand Washing - The cook’s hands must be clean before and after handling raw meats. If a cook’s hands are not clean before handling the raw meats, harmful microorganisms may be introduced onto the meat. Hot water, soap and paper towels are the tools needed to adequately wash hand before cooking. Dirty hands frequently contaminate foods.
After starting with clean hands and then handling/processing/cooking venison, be sure to wash your hands after you handle the raw meats. You will spread the bacteria of the raw meat to other surfaces in your home if you don’t wash your hands after handling the raw meat.

Cross Contamination - Be aware of cross contamination. Raw meat will contaminate anything it touches. Knives, cutting boards, counter tops, plates, pans etc., will likely have bacteria on the surfaces and should be washed and sanitized thoroughly before being used for any other food. To sanitize a food contact surface you may use 50 parts per million (one teaspoon of 5.25% bleach per gallon of water at 75 degrees F.) to soak, spray or wipe on clean food contact surfaces. This will kill any unwanted bacteria.

Cook Meats Thoroughly - Cooking venison to 165 degrees should destroy any unwanted food related organisms. This is probably the most important step to the safety of your meal. Again, no matter how you processed your venison, when it comes time to cook your meal, be sure it is cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature (inside the meat) of at least 165 Degrees F.

Field Dressing - A good venison meal begins as soon as the deer is harvested. How you take care of your deer after the shot will have a great deal to do with how tasty or nasty your next venison masterpiece will be. The most common errors that hunters make are contamination of the carcass with intestinal matter, hair, soil, leaves and other trash. If you do not have a processor near by who can professionally skin and dress your deer, the first step is to field dress the deer as soon as possible so the carcass can begin to cool. Drag the deer to a spot where you have plenty of room to work and follow these steps:

You should always carry a sharp hunting knife, a 8-10 foot length of rope to fashion a drag, a 3 foot length of twine and some paper towels or cloths.

Prop the deer on its back and with your knife, cut completely around the anus. Pull it out and tie it off with your twine. This a must do procedure! Do not forget to do this!

Pinch the hide between the hind legs and make a small cut with the point of your knife. Insert two fingers of your free hand into the incision and lift the hide away from the inner skin.

Using your fingers to keep the hide raised and as a guide for your knife, carefully cut the hide from the anus opening to the breast bone. Always cut from the inside of the hide to reduce the amount of hair contamination and be careful not to cut the abdominal muscles and intestines.

Once you have completed your cut, roll the deer on its side. Pull the tied off anus through the pelvic opening and roll the intestines out on the ground. Be careful when removing the bladder that you do not cut or puncture it. Reach into the chest cavity, cut the esophagus and pull it out. Pull out any remaining organs.

Use your paper towels to clean any remaining blood clots etc out of the cavity and to clean your hands. Disposable plastic gloves are also a handy item to carry.

If you have to drag your deer any distance at all to get it out of the woods, it’s probably not advisable to split the pelvis or chest bone. This will reduce the likelihood that dirt and debris will get into the body cavity. Drag the deer head first so that the natural bend of the hair will not pick up excessive dirt and debris.

If you plan on skinning the deer yourself, do not wrap the skinned deer in newspaper! It is next to impossible to remove the paper from the deer.

Refrigeration - Your deer should be refrigerated as soon as possible. If the air temperature is above 50 degrees as it often is here in Southeast Missouri, the carcass should be refrigerated within 3-4 hours of the kill. If that is not possible, pack the body cavity with as much ice as possible until you can completely dress your deer.

Aging Venison - A number of hunters like to age their deer to tenderize the meat. To properly age a deer, the hide should be left on and the deer refrigerated at 34-36 degrees for up to 2 weeks. However, most hunters do not have the facilities to hang their deer in such a manner and processors must remove the hide before bringing deer into their facilities. Removing the hide exposes the meat to cold dry air and causes excessive dehydration and consequently, higher trimming losses. Generally speaking, it is better to go ahead and process the deer within 3-4 days of the kill due to the dehydration problems and the contaminates that are usually present.

Cooking - Venison can be a delicious change of pace from the beef, chicken, pork routine or it can be like eating Luther’s boot. The key is understanding that venison is a naturally lean meat. It has very little fat cover and what it does have, does not contribute to the flavor of the meat. When preparing venison for cooking, as much fat, tallow and silver skin as possible should be trimmed off. Since venison has very little fat itself, your recipe should provide some replacement to enhance the flavor. Butter, bacon strips, cheese and even larding with beef fat will help. Don’t overcook venison.

Venison steaks and roasts have a better flavor when they are still pink inside. Try different seasonings, marinades and sauces to compliment venison’s natural flavor. Also, choose a method of cooking that adds moisture back to the meat. Simmering in a sauce, frequent basting, and slow cooking in a crock pot are examples of how to keep your venison from drying out.   This part was from Ask the Meatman site.