Care needed when processing venison

Dustin Horn of Horn’s Butcher and Meat Processing, 3345 County Road 318 Fulton, prepares to process a deer Tuesday. Horn said the firm has processed about 250 deer this month.

Dustin Horn of Horn’s Butcher and Meat Processing, 3345 County Road 318 Fulton, prepares to process a deer Tuesday. Horn said the firm has processed about 250 deer this month. Photo by Don Norfleet.

Venison is nutritious and a healthy choice but should not be eaten before it is frozen, a nutrition specialist suggests.

This month 3,234 deer were killed in Callaway County during the 11-day November firearms deer hunting season.

“Eating fresh venison is not recommended because parasites and tapeworms are common in deer,” says Tammy Roberts, a University of Missouri Extension nutrition specialist.

Roberts recommends freezing fresh venison for at least 24 hours — 48 hours is better — before it is cooked to at least 160 degrees.

She said E. coli is present in the intestinal tract of deer and can survive in homemade jerky and fermented sausages like pepperoni. “When making jerky, venison should be steamed, roasted or boiled to 160 degrees before drying,” Roberts said.

Roberts said venison is nutritious and a healthy choice if handled properly when it is prepared. “Three ounces of venison contains 134 calories and only 3 grams of fat. The same amount of beef can contain 259 calories and 18 gams of fat. Three ounces of pork has about 214 calories and 13 grams of fat,” Roberts said.

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