Meat Processor Deer/Venison Processing Protocol to Prevent the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease


November 13, 2018 - Author: Jeannine Schweihofer

  • Wear rubber or latex gloves when accepting and handling deer and venison. Change gloves between different animals/carcasses.
  • Isolate and do not cut or process the carcass or meat products that have been tested for CWD until negative results are obtained.
  • Do not cut through brain, spinal cord, lymph nodes or spleen; CWD prions accumulate here.
    • Bone out muscles along the backbone and avoid cutting through the spinal column.
    • Do not cut through lymph nodes when possible and remove them from trim when found.
  •  Use single-use, non-porous trash bags to line barrels.
    • Double line trash bags for carcass waste from CWD suspect animals.
  • Remove and dispose of solids (including meat and bone pieces) before wet cleaning the processing area to avoid sending infectious material through drains.
  • Waste created from the processing of a carcass from CWD Core Area (Kent, Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newago counties) or the CWD Management Zone (Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa, and Shiawassee counties) should be bagged and placed in dumpsters or receptacles to be sent directly to a regulated landfill.
    • Do not render, burn, compost, or place in the environment parts from deer that potentially have CWD as this could contaminate the environment or soil and spread the disease.
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing best practices to minimize spread of infectious CWD material
    • Prions are proteins but are only killed through heat at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, not typical processing steps.
    • Regularly clean and sanitize personal protective equipment (boots, gloves, clothing, etc.).
    • Keep equipment, including knives, moist between use (exposure) and cleaning/decontamination.
    • Use 50% bleach, 50% water sanitizing solution and soak processing equipment and surfaces for at least 1 hour.
    • Rinse all equipment and surfaces with hot, potable water after soaking in bleach solution.
    • Always clean and sanitize between processing wild game and meat/poultry products.
  • Consider using separate knives and equipment for venison processing and meat/poultry.
  • See additional receiving protocol, including segregation of suspect CWD wild game. 


Tags: chronic wasting disease, commercial food safety, food policy, safe food & water

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