Most people associate trichinellosis with eating raw or undercooked pork. However, in recent years, more cases have been associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked wild game meat (such as bears) than with the consumption of domestic pork products. Trichinella parasites can infect a wide variety of animals around the world. In the 48 lowest states, cases and outbreaks of trichinellosis have been caused by the consumption of brown and black bears, wild boars and pumas; in Alaska, walruses and black, brown and polar bears; and in Hawaii, wild boars.
Trichinella has also been detected in many other wild animals that are hunted, including coyotes, foxes and raccoons. Coyotes and foxes have not yet been implicated in any reported cases or outbreaks of trichinellosis, but at least one case attributed to the consumption of undercooked raccoon meat has been reported. Deer are covered with parasites, inside and out. In fact, a cooperative study of southeastern wildlife diseases conducted on wild white-tailed deer in Natchez, Mississippi, found an average of 3,988 different parasites per deer.
Are they dangerous to hunters who manipulate and eat the deer they kill? Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the answer is “no. Still, as an avid deer hunter and even more avid deer eater, I like to know exactly what lives inside and on my venison. There must be a market for the product and a sufficient volume for the collection and slaughter of wild game animals to be profitable. Part of the thrill of eating out is trying new, exotic dishes; wild game can be both local and exotic, partly explaining the growing popularity of game meat in restaurants and grocery stores.
Alligators are a game meat exclusive to the southern United States, running from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Whole cuts and ground meat from wild game animals must be cooked at an internal temperature of 160°F. Wild game that is hunted and not farmed can be voluntarily inspected for sale and sale if proper temperature controls, handling and processing are followed according to plans by HACCP. Nicole Cruz, owner and operator of Circle C Farm, says wild pork is very lean, so it's often combined with beef tallow and other meats to make sausages.
While trichinella infection can be prevented in pigs raised for pork production, there are no viable methods to reduce trichinella infection in wild animals. Because their environment is less controlled than that of farm animals, wild animals are also subject to parasites, viruses, prions and other hazards not found in farmed meat. Therefore, hunters and trappers who consume their prey must take personal responsibility for handling, processing, storing and transporting game meat to ensure its health and safety. Anyone considering processing and selling game meat should contact a state extension meat specialist or a state hunting official.
Circle C Farm also processes meat from local small farmers who raise grass-fed meats and from free-range chickens and local hunters who ethically harvest wild game, such as wild boars.