New food safety regulations will allow for wild deer to be processed for human consumption in Victoria.
The regulations come as deer numbers rocket across the state and could capitalise on the growing appetite for game on the culinary scene.
Food safety regulator PrimeSafe put in place regulations for wild deer after it was listed as a game meat under meat industry regulations earlier this year.
“Since then we have been working with the relevant government departments to develop a food safety regulatory system to protect the health of people and pets who consume game meat from wild deer,” PrimeSafe CEO Brendan Tatham said.
Wild deer that will be sold as food will be harvested by PrimeSafe-approved field harvesters who must meet a list of requirements.
These include holding a certificate to prove game harvest skills, showing evidence of shooting proficiency and possessing a licensed game meat harvester vehicle.
Recreational hunters are not permitted to sell wild deer that they have killed and processed.
Approved hunters can harvest deer from private land with written approval from the landowner, and from Crown land with written approval from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
There is currently one PrimeSafe licensed game meat processing facility in Victoria.
Regulations ‘too tough’
The move to process deer for human and pet consumption has been welcomed by political and hunting groups, but some said the regulations were still too tight to put a dent in wild deer populations.
Victorian Nationals leader, Peter Walsh, raised doubts about how effective the regulations would be.
“Particularly for small food producers, a lot of them really struggle to get a satisfactory outcome with PrimeSafe when it comes to regulations around their businesses,” Mr Walsh said.
“There’s been a number of small food businesses over the years that have been very frustrated with the cost of what they have to do with compliance to get a PrimeSafe licence to make smallgoods [and] do some of those retail packs that are made.”
Mr Walsh said giving smaller producers access to wild deer would be more effective in cutting numbers.