In modern food industry settings, pathogenic microorganisms such as Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) cause global public health concerns. Foodborne infections with STEC are common, and sporadically linked to venison consumption. This article reviews the scientific literature on wild deer culled for human consumption, to outline the factors that influence the carriage of STEC in the intestines of wild deer species and the practices that lead to venison contamination. It discusses the potential risk factors, from culling on the hill to final packaging, linked to this pathogen. The review found important variables influencing the presence of STEC in deer carcasses and venison. Many of these were unrelated to human intervention, being generally linked to the condition of the live animal and the probability of bacterial shedding. Other factors influencing STEC presence related to the management of the environment and dressing hygiene practices, both of which can be optimised to reduce the risk of contamination. We also highlight gaps in the current understanding of the risk related to parts of the wild venison chain that could impact on the microbial quality of food products derived from wild deer carcasses. An industry approach that considers integrating the scientific evidence collated in this review into the traditional knowledge of the hill-to-fork chain would assist in adapting the businesses’ food safety management system to better mitigate the possibility of STEC contamination in venison products intended for human consumption.
- Wild ruminant
- Food safety