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Uncertainty hinders the Dutch risk assessment of bushmeat

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Uncertainty hinders the Dutch risk assessment of bushmeat

According to a Dutch assessment, there is great uncertainty about the risks associated with eating bush meat.

The Bureau of Risk Assessment and Research (BuRO), part of the Dutch Food and Product Safety Authority (NVWA), has looked at the microbiological and chemical risks to consumer health resulting from the consumption of bushmeat, but also at traditional medicines from bushmeat .

The research revealed very limited information about the frequency of consumption of bushmeat in the Netherlands and no information about the quantities. It was not known which pathogens or chemicals were contained in imported bushmeat. The scientific literature on microbiological hazards in the bushmeat chain mainly described the African continent, making the situation in Asia and South America much less clear.

Findings and advice
BuRO could not guarantee the chemical risks to the health of Dutch consumers due to a lack of data and too many uncertainties.

Although there was also a lot of uncertainty in the microbiological risk assessment, some conclusions were drawn. The risk of disease caused by Bacillus anthracis is probably very small. However, there is a real risk of disease caused by pathogens in bushmeat due to poor hygiene during storage or transport.

Although traditionally processed and prepared bushmeat is unlikely to be a source of pathogens, raw or undercooked bushmeat can pose a risk.

According to BuRO, bushmeat should be considered unsafe food due to its illegal nature and the lack of legal guarantees in terms of safety and traceability. Bringing meat products for personal consumption from countries outside the European Union is not permitted.

The agency’s advice to the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality included mapping the extent of the illegal import of bushmeat, investigating what type of meat comes from, what pathogens and chemicals can be found and in what quantities, look at how West African and other communities in the Netherlands prepare bushmeat, how often they eat it and in what quantities, and inform consumers about the risks of bushmeat consumption.

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