Main content area

Copper residues in meat from wild artiodactyls hunted with two types of rifle bullets manufactured from copper

Irschik, Iris, Bauer, Friedrich, Sager, Manfred, Paulsen, Peter
European journal of wildlife research 2013 v.59 no.2 pp. 129-136
Capreolus capreolus, Cervus dama, Cervus elaphus, Sus scrofa, copper, food sanitation, longissimus muscle, venison, wild boars
Copper content in muscle and the presence of bullet fragments were assessed in samples from red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), fallow deer (Dama dama) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) (total of 46 animals) which had been hunted with two types of solid copper bullets. Also, the release of copper from bullets or fragments remaining in muscle was tested. For bullet type “B”, a fragment was detected in only 1 out of 34 carcasses whereas for type “A”, fragments were detected in all 12 carcasses, with up to 24 fragments (maximum size, 5 × 7 × 2 mm). Median copper concentrations around the shot wound (0–30 mm distance) were 1.25 and 1.77 mg/kg fresh weight for bullet types B and A, respectively, and thus in the expected range for venison. Around bullet fragments that had remained in muscles, the copper content increased significantly. In roe deer longissimus muscle that had been exposed for 7 days at +7 °C to bullets of type B, up to 1,000 mg/kg copper (fresh weight) was found in a distance of 0–2 mm. However, in a distance of 10–20 mm, maximum copper contents were <10 mg/kg fresh weight. Bullet fragments can constitute physical hazards and will release copper under acidic conditions as those prevailing in meat. Removal of bullet fragments prior to culinary preparation should ensure that a recommended dietary copper intake of 1.25 mg per adult consumer per day is not exceeded. From a food hygiene viewpoint, non-fragmenting bullets seem to be preferable.