Don’t let EHD deter your venison enjoyment

Venison is a great addition to any dinner table, Thanksgiving or not.

On the menu for the first Thanksgiving, according to National Geographic, was deer. Venison is a great addition to any dinner table, Thanksgiving or not. With the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) scare in Michigan this year, some may be concerned about consuming the deer meat. There’s no need to be concerned according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), but you should follow food safety practices.

EHD is not new to Michigan. The MDNR shares that this has been the largest outbreak in Michigan’s history, but was first described as far back as 1955. Due to last year’s mild winter and the drought Michigan experienced this year, the biting fly called a midge that spreads the disease flourished. The concern for this year is over. The MDNR states, “The midges cannot survive frost and die in autumn. Because of this, the disease appears during late summer and early fall (Aug. –Oct.) and ceases abruptly with the onset of frost.”

Michigan Emerging Disease Issues website states that the deer meat is edible. EHD in exposed but recovered deer may have signs like hoof abnormalities or lesions. The MDNR does request that you report if you see any of these to a MDNR Check Station or to contact their nearest MDNR Wildlife office.

The most important part of preparing venison is to follow food safety practices. Clean, separate, cook and chill is the method to follow according to the USDA. Wash hands and utensils, keep raw meat away from foods that won’t be cooked, use a food thermometer, and chill leftovers within two hours is the breakdown of the steps.

Set a conventional oven’s temperature to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit and use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. Venison to be cooked to medium should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) provides further details on cooking Game Farm to Table.

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