Waitrose is changing its requirements on the game meat it sells. These sales are booming year on year and the supermarket has long planned to phase out the use of lead shot. It is working with a few specific estates to enable this to happen during the 2020/21 season.
Lead shot is commonly used and accepted as its ballistics ensure a swift dispatch. Alternatives including steel are gradually catching up with the capabilities of lead to which the industry is open to but there is significant work to be done.
In terms of human health, the Food Standards Agency merely advises those who “frequently” eat lead-shot game to “cut down” their consumption. To further reduce any risk much of the processed game consumed in the UK goes through lead scanners to remove it.
The Waitrose approach is a justifiable choice in futureproofing their game business, but that does not change the facts around lead shot game, and that if consumed as part of a balanced healthy diet, it does not pose a significant health risk.
First and foremost this is a sustainable source of lean protein which – because these animals enjoy lives in the wild – is far more ethical than many intensively farmed alternatives.