They, like most others simply took for granted that every venison processor is qualified about the actual process of cutting and wrapping venison. This became apparent in my college years at NDSU, and really driven home when my two daughters married avid hunters.
They married brothers, and neither had ever been exposed to the fine art of venison cuisine. It was chop/chop without much attention to detail, particularly that of wholesomeness and health related inspection issues. This was a challenge that I couldn’t let pass, so I put on my teaching hat and drifted back in time to that vintage period of university meat labs.
I’m proud to point out that the Kinneman brothers turned out to be my finest students of the trade. You probably have it figured out that the Kinneman brothers are my sons-in-law, and they have now joined their younger brother in the business of Kinneman Bros. Venison Meat Processing. The kinship of the Kinnemans (including 4 grandchildren) is an inordinate relationship, uncomparable to that of any other.
They have such a passion for the sport; that to take it to the next level seemed only natural—as natural as nature’s own unbounded creation of beauty. For, is there anything more beautiful then that of deer grazing in lush green fields; protected by the sanctuary of a thickly wooded refuge? However, we also know that when man intercedes, the intent of creation also becomes tainted. Such is the case when a deer hunter wakes up to a brisk cool morning with a spring in his step and a loaded muzzle in his hand. It’s the kind of unbridled caution that will turn the best of times and intentions into a disaster for many.
With the deer-hunting season about to open, it seems appropriate to raise the awareness level of the health risks involved in eating uninspected meat or that which is processed by a novice. Unfortunately, this describes the processing of most venison — thus the reasons for finding lead in the meat, as well as other adulterations and health issues.
Deer that is properly dressed unprocessed will be free of any and foreign material. Utilization of every cut will be maximized and upgraded for value. And scrutiny for health issues such as Chronic Wasting Disease and other abnormalities will be observed and dealt with in a responsible manner. Tissues directly associated with CWD, inclusive of brain, spine, and other affected areas of the carcass will be completely destroyed. A trained eye” and a preciosity for cleanliness and sanitation should be the norm for all venison processors. This is simply a statement of caution to make you aware of taking every precaution to keep it clean, keep it dry, keep it cold, and keep it healthy.
The Kinneman Bros. adhere to these processing precautions and would advise others to likewise check out such credentials when comparing venison processors. To turn a prejudiced eye translates into a huge risk factor when you consider the average novice has no training in the skills of recognizing potential disease carrying characteristics, nor proper meat processing procedures.
These are disconcerting issues, for which many ignore. But chronic wasting disease may be the wake-up call that will give venison its due diligence. CWD is a fatal brain disease that is found to be spreading in deer and elk across this entire country. Although experts say there is no scientific evidence the disease can infect humans, the World Health Organization advices people not to eat any part of a deer with evidence of the disease.
In spite of this presumptuous evidence, hunters are demanding to know whether the deer they kill this fall will have the disease. Unfortunately, testing is the only way to find out.
But, be aware that affected animals will appear sick (thin, weak, and emaciated) a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed with the Kinneman Bros.
This information is not intended to raise unfounded fear — rather, it is to inform you bout the health risks of red meat when due-diligence is ignored, and to further embrace and support the Federal Meat Inspection Program. It points out that this program is vital to the welfare of the meat industry, or it would go untamed, suffering the ramifications of venison, which at best, is indisputably unsettling.
Not a pretty picture, but it is an issue that I’ve been concerned about for many years. Back in my college years at North Dakota State University, I can remember venison being processed that was genuinely unfit for human consumption.
I worked my way through college working for the Meat and Animal Science Department in various capacities. But, the most profitable venue was that of processing deer. In a good long evening I could process 4 deer at the income rate of $25.00 per head. An income of $100.00 per day was unthinkable back in those days, so I always enjoyed the false sense of being rich for at least a few weeks out of the year.
After being married for 50 plus years, I now realize that it conjures up other false feelings. Living in a trailer house located on campus, just a few blocks from the meat lab, gave my wife an accessible view to see when the lab lights were turned off. She always made mention of the fact that this was how she knew when to expect me home. I thought she was just anxious to see me, little did I know it was all about the money.
Making the money was a bonus, but seeing the deteriorated condition of deer carcasses was enough to turn me away from venison for a good long time. Many would be brought in on the hood of a hot car, warm temperatures, and with the appearance of being eviscerated with pinking shears. As apparently audacious as this now seems, I have since come to realize this presented a potentially hazardous health risk.
Hope this has raised your awareness level of properly handling and processing venison, and may all of your hunting experiences be approached with a cautious sense of health risk, and a renewed appreciation for those involved in the sport, like that of the Kinneman Bros, who take venison processing to a higher level of integrity.
Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.