Food safety for hunters

Eating meat from hunted animals in the wild has food safety risks. Find out how to lower the risks.

Hunted meat can be diseased or poisoned

If you hunt, it's your responsibility to make sure the meat from the game animal is safe to eat.

Hunted meat is riskier to eat because:

  • it's not regulated in the same way as meat bought from a butcher or supermarket
  • it can carry diseases if the animal was sick or wounded
  • it can be contaminated with dangerous chemicals or poisons
  • it might not be handled or transported properly in the field.

How to manage the risk from eating wild animals

When you hunt, only take healthy animals, and store and transport meat safely. Our guide on food safety for hunters includes information on how to:

  • identify if an animal is free of disease and poison, and is fit to eat
  • safely butcher and transport animals.

Food safety guide for hunters [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Before you go hunting, check your area is safe and unrestricted

Always hunt in safe areas. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has information to show you where poison drops are happening around New Zealand.

Find out where pesticides are used – DOC

Check your hunting area isn't restricted. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) restricts commercial hunting in areas where the chance of contamination from poison residues is too high.

Butchering your catch

Some hunters prefer to have someone else butcher their meat for them.

"Home kill and recreational catch service providers" are butchers listed by MPI who cut up and process meat from hunted animals.

Search listed home kill and recreational catch service providers

Find out more

MPI has produced 3 videos on wild food safety. They show hunters and gatherers how to safely catch, store, and eat wild foods. You can watch the food safety videos on YouTube.

Hunting animals

Duck and other game birds

Gathering seafood

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email

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