Push for game as healthier option in hospitals and schools

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Welsh game could provide a healthy option for schools and hospitals. Image credit: Getty, DronG
Welsh game could provide a healthy option for schools and hospitals. Image credit: Getty, DronG

Related tags Agriculture

Welsh game could provide a cheaper, healthier option for hospitals and schools looking for lean, high protein meat and should be given equal billing to regularly used staples like chicken, beef and lamb, according to the organisers of the Welsh Game Fair.

A campaign to get lean, high protein game meat on the menu in Welsh hospitals and schools will be launched during the two-day fair on September 9 and 10.

Will Oakley, operations director of one of Shropshire-based Willo Game and advocate of the campaign said: “We have some hurdles to overcome, but these are mainly based around common misconceptions about use of game as a food source.

“But when you sit down and look at the actual facts, there are an abundance of sound and compelling reasons to introduce game to NHS menus. First among them must be that this is the healthiest meat there is. It is the leanest and has the highest protein value of any meat.”

Free-from human intervention

Oakley also highlighted the lack of human intervention when it came to game, meaning there are no steroids, antibiotics or other additives compared to some farmed meats.

“This is because of the animals’ wild lifestyle – from the moment they are born deer live in the wild, roaming free, grazing naturally,” ​he added. “It is a similar story with fowl. Wild pheasant, partridge and grouse all have higher protein levels than chicken, and a lot less saturated fat but more, healthier polyunsaturated fat, meaning they are much lower in cholesterol.

“All this means that the consumer is likely to get more nutrition eating a small portion of game than they would with a plateful of other red meat.

“This could be particularly advantageous in hospitals where recovering or ill patients may not feel up to eating large meals. They will know they can still get their required nutrition even if they eat a fairly small portion.”

Export success

Willo Game already sees success exporting game meat around the world, with customers in Europe, Hong Kong and the Middle East. Closer to home, demand in on the rise as pubs and restaurants begin to see the value of game, both from the perspective of its environmental impact and price.

“In Wales game has a comparable carbon footprint to locally raised beef or lamb and is more than competitive on the price front,”​ Oakley continued.

“For instance, the latest market figures show the price of beef at £35 per kilo compared to £23 per kilo for venison. That makes it financially viable for hospitals. Choosing game would not add any further constraints to NHS budgets.”

James Grower, chief executive of Stable Events which organises the show, pointed out that deer in Wales needed to be culled anyway to help protect the local eco-system. Once culled, they immediately enter the food chain as a natural source of additive-free meat.

Valuing game

“This is why game should be valued rather than excluded from hospital menus. It is time for a re-think on how we approach healthy diets,”​ Grower concluded.

It is home grown right here in Wales, the most natural free-range meat we have. It has a low carbon footprint and is incredibly healthy. It makes absolute sense for it to be a regular choice on our hospital menus.”

“We hope events like the Welsh Game Fair will open people’s eyes to its potential and put game front and centre of the table.”

Related topics Meat, poultry & seafood Operations

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