A chef preparing small game meat
A chef preparing small game meat

Small game preparation

Food hygiene is paramount

All game preparation must be carried out with good food hygiene being the number one priority.

When transporting shot quarry, BASC advises members to adhere to the Code of Good Shooting Practice’s Guide to Good Game handling (NEEDS LINK). If you’re preparing game for the table, follow guidance set out by The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and NHS England.

The following guidance only relates to game being processed, stored, and cooked for personal consumption.

Those operating as a food business, including the primary producer, need to comply with the hygiene regulations for supplying game for human consumption.

There are also rules and regulations relation to the sale and supply of game meat to others which must be complied with. Click the country-specific links below for more information regulations in your area:


England, Wales and Northern Ireland

In the field

he process of good game handling begins as soon as the shot game is in the hand. The basics of good handling of shot game includes keeping it clean, protecting it from contamination, rapid cooling to 4°C or below, and correct storage until it is processed.

Find out more information on how to do this (NEEDS LINK).

Storage at home prior to preparation

There are specific legal rules on the storage of game if it is being supplied to others which must be followed. It is a good principle to follow these for home consumption. Key basics are to keep them cool, dry, and away from any source of contamination, eg. flies.

Some people like to hang game to improve it’s flavour. The time allowed for this is a matter of personal preference, however, this will be affected by factors such the species and the storage facilities you have available. For example, hanging time would reduce (if undertaken at all) if you don’t have suitable refrigerated storage facilities or the ambient temperature is not sufficiently cool.

Carcass prep

  • Hands are one of the main ways germs are spread. You should wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water before starting any food preparation task. You should wear disposable gloves and change them regularly during the process.
  • Any cuts and scrapes on your skin must be covered, and you should not process game if you are feeling unwell.
  • Clean and sanitise your prep area before, during and after all preparation. Use a food safe ‘steriliser’ and use disposable cloths for cleaning up afterwards.
  • Pluck or skin your birds in a well-ventilated area away from food preparation areas.
  • Frequently clean your knife between cuts to avoid contaminating the meat.
  • Continue to inspect the carcass and any obvious irregularities should not be put into the food chain.
  • You should not wash raw meat. Washing meat under a tap can splash bacteria onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops. Washing raw meat can spread harmful bacteria like campylobacter.
  • Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.
  • Waste materials associate with game preparation for personal use/consumption can disposed of in normal household refuse following normal rules, ie. a sealed bin bag placed straight into outside general waste bin.

Food storage and cooking

  • Keep all raw meat in covered containers on the bottom shelf of fridge to avoid raw juices contaminating other foods.
  • A freezer acts as a pause button – food in a freezer won’t deteriorate and most bacteria cannot grow in it. When freezing ensure the meat is properly packed to reduce wastage as a result of freezer burn.
  • Date and label all meat to ensure effective freezer rotation.
  • When you take your food out of the freezer, it’s important to defrost it safely before cooking or eating it. Don’t defrost food at room temperature. Ideally, food should be defrosted fully in the fridge.
  • Make sure your food is fully defrosted before cooking. Partially defrosted food may not cook evenly, meaning that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.
  • Do not cross contaminate raw and cooked meat through chopping boards, utensils, or any other contact. All equipment must be thoroughly washed with hot water and food safe soap between uses and left to air dry.
  • Standard advice is to cook food until it has reached 70°C and stayed at that temperature for two minutes, (FSA guidance). Invest in a temperature probe to ensure this temperature is reached.