Thursday, 13 May 2021

Wild Justice 61 - Sainsbury's game meat has high lead levels


Good morning!
This newsletter is all about the lead levels in game meat sold by Sainsbury's. The full details of our study can be found here.
The background to why we chose Sainsbury's game meat and why lead levels matter were described in two previous blogs Sainsbury's game meat – and why we tested its lead levels and Lead levels in game meat.
What follows is a simple summary.
If you walk into a supermarket and buy a chicken off the shelf you can be pretty sure that it has low levels of lead, a poison, in it.  That's because it would be unlikely to pick up high lead levels and because there are maximum allowable levels set for lead in most types of meat, including chicken, pork, beef etc.
If you move down the aisle and buy Pheasant or other game meat then there is a reason why they might have high lead levels - they are likely to have been shot with lead pellets (or lead bullets), and tiny fragments of lead are likely to be spread through the meat.  But, bizarrely, there are no maximum allowable levels set for game meat so there could, legally, be any amount of lead in that meat and no offence would have been committed. 
We collected samples of chicken, Game Mix and Pheasant breasts from Sainsbury's stores and sent them to a university laboratory to find out how much lead was in the meat.
Here is what we found:
The chicken had very low lead levels - all less than 0.04 units. None of the chicken samples was anywhere near the maximum level allowed.
Both the types of game meat had much higher lead levels whether you look at the highest levels detected, the median levels or the mean levels. And if the maximum allowable levels of lead that apply to other meats applied to game meat then Sainsbury's wouldn't be able to sell these products to you because so much of this game meat, 24 out of 30 in our samples, is above the threshold level.
It's as simple as that: game meat has high lead levels because lead is shot into game and government does not require retailers only to sell game meat with low lead levels and retailers don't do this voluntarily.
What do you think should happen next? Please answer the six questions in this very short questionnaire which should take less than a minute to complete:
This project cost about £5,000 - purchase, preparation, packaging and postage of samples and the cost of laboratory analysis. If you like what we are doing then please consider making a donation through PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here
That's it for now but we'll be back with more news next week.  Look out for a blog tomorrow on the levels of lead in Waitrose game meat.
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

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