Is it safe to eat roadkill?

Every 12 months, automobiles kill a whole lot of hundreds of animals on roads within the U.S., in accordance with the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. That quantity may really be a lot greater as a result of not all accidents involving animals could also be reported.


Rather than seeing these animals spoil and go to waste by the facet of the highway, dozens of states enable folks to legally accumulate the meat for consumption.

Many carnivorous animals scavenge from prey that’s already lifeless. But how are you going to know if roadkill is safe for people to eat?

Collecting roadkill for consuming is authorized in over 20 states, together with Vermont, Washington, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The most up-to-date addition to this checklist is California; in October, legislators legalized roadkill harvesting from three areas within the state with “high wildlife collisions,” The Sacramento Bee reported. Under the phrases of the brand new regulation, deer, elk, wild pigs, and pronghorn antelope are truthful recreation if they’re killed in an automobile collision, in accordance with the Bee.

Animals that die from their accidents after being hit by an automobile may be eaten safely —  offered you observe some fundamental precautions, mentioned Nicole Meier, a data and training specialist on the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. That begins with an inspection of the animal to make it possible for it wasn’t sick or injured earlier than the impression that killed it, Meier advised Live Science.


Once that preliminary once-over is finished, there are three variables that might make roadkill dangerous to eat, Meier mentioned. The first of these is warmth. If a lifeless animal has been sprawled on a roadside in a sizzling climate, it’s potential that the meat is unsafe to eat except it was just lately killed (for instance, in case you hit it your self and know the way lengthy it’s been lifeless).

“If it’s summertime and that deer has been sitting on the highway — let’s just say for more than like 10 or 15 minutes — I would be super leery of it,” Meier mentioned.

Bacteria usually multiply quicker in greater temperatures; they develop most quickly in temperatures ranging between 40 and 140 levels Fahrenheit (4 and 60 levels Celsius), they usually can double in quantity in as little as 20 minutes, in accordance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. When the climate is heating, roadkill flesh turns into a possible hotbed of microbes that might lead to sickness. In reality, after an animal has been lifeless for a while you may see bloating due to all of the microbes breeding and producing gasses in its intestine, Meier mentioned.

Beyond salvage

Other components to take into account are the presence of filth and water, which may expose the animal to environmental microbes. For instance, if an animal is a mendacity in a grimy puddle by the facet of the highway, the meat could also be past salvage, Meier mentioned.  Even if the carcass is cool, dry and comparatively clear, you’d nonetheless want to make it possible for the abdomen and intestines weren’t punctured; leaking intestine microorganisms may make the animal’s flesh inedible, in accordance to Meier.

However, you’ll have to report to your state’s wildlife enforcement to allow them to know that you prefer to harvest the animal earlier than you assist your self.

For instance, if you need to accumulate meat from roadkill in Vermont, you would want to name a recreation warden to get a particular allow for transporting wildlife, Meier mentioned. If you have by no means butchered an animal earlier than, some states’ fish and wildlife departments supply courses for processing wild recreation, she mentioned.

Although the concept of consuming roadkill could seem overseas to some folks, recreation meat is a wholesome and pure supply of protein — and the way the animal died should not rule it out as a viable meal, Meier added.

“[Eating] wild game is something that is so deeply rooted in Vermont — and really in the U.S.,” mentioned Meier. “The more that we can sustainably harvest, the better off we will be.”

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