When hunting, food safety begins in the field. The goal is to have safe meat for you and your family to eat.
Here are some ways to keep your food safe:
1. Shot placement. Food safety begins with an accurate shot. Your goal should be to prevent the digestive tract's contents from touching the meat. A gut shot can quickly ruin meat and make cleaning the animal harder.
2. Quickly chill the meat. Improper temperature is meat’s No. 1 enemy. The recommended storage temperature to prevent bacterial growth is 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Handle the knife with one hand and the carcass with the other. The hide can harbor dirt and pathogens, so be careful to prevent contamination of the meat.
4. Have vinegar water and chlorine water on hand. Spray a solution of half vinegar and half water on areas where hair or hide touch the meat. Rinse hands and tools periodically in a bucket of sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine per gallon of water.
5. Think food safety through the whole process. Prevent cross contamination by keeping anything from contacting the meat unless it has been sterilized. Keep the digestive tract intact and prevent its contents from contacting the meat. Chill the meat as quickly as possible. When further processing, always use sterile surfaces and tools.
Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.