Game and venison – meat for the modern consumer

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This review focuses on how game meat from southern Africa and venison that are increasingly being imported into Europe and the US addresses consumer issues as pertaining to production (wild, free range or intensive production) and harvesting methods, healthiness (chemical composition, particularly fatty acid composition), and traceability. Although African game meat species are farmed extensively, deer species are farmed using extensive to intensive production systems. However, the increasingly intensive production of the cervids and the accompanying practices associated with this (castration, velvetting, feeding of balanced diets, etc.) may have a negative impact in the near future on the consumer’s perception of these animals. These alternative meat species are all harvested in a sustainable manner using acceptable methods. All these species have very low muscle fat contents consisting predominantly of structural lipid components (phospholipid and cholesterol) that have high proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This results in the meat having desirable polyunsaturated:saturated and n - 6:n - 3 fatty acid ratios. The South African traceability system is discussed briefly as an example on how these exporting countries are able to address the requirements pertaining to the import of meat as stipulated by the European Economic Community.