I read this recent news story about a Kentucky Chinese restaurant dragging road kill into their restaurant and the town became skittish and shut the restaurant down.

Is eating road-killed venison a health hazard? What is the difference between a bow/gun-shot deer and and a road-killed deer, in terms of health concerns?

Can a road-killed deer be converted into quality acceptable by health depts by some form of inspection? Or, does restaurant quality venison have to come from deer farms?

  • Could it be that generally you are allowed to serve road-kill in restaurants as long as you process/dissect the road-kill in an approved abattoir rather than in the restaurant? – Cynthia Avishegnath Oct 7 '12 at 8:36
  • You are asking multiple, different questions here, some of which are subjective and thus unsuitable here. Can you narrow things down to one concrete question that can have an objective answer? Is road kill safe to eat is an example, would you eat road kill is not. – ElendilTheTall Oct 7 '12 at 8:41
  • We can't provide legal advice here. I've preserved the parts specific to food safety. Also, this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, so please avoid long narratives that aren't pertinent to the main issue. – Aaronut Oct 7 '12 at 15:40
  • Your first paragraph doesn't seem to have any bearing on your question. If you read the article, there was apparently no plan to serve the road-kill deer to the restaurant patrons: m.nydailynews.com/1.1172323#bmb=1 – Kristina Lopez Oct 7 '12 at 18:19
  • In the UK (I am told) you are not allowed to take the road-kill (usually deer I hope) if you killed it yourself. However, another passing motorist is well within their rights to take it. There are well-known locations where people park and wait for a 'freshly bent and bloodied' car to appear from the forest. They then head down the road and pick up the kill. It is usually taken to an abattoir. – OldCurmudgeon Oct 9 '12 at 12:53

Animals that are killed, independent on the method, have to be examined by a veterinarian and a sample should be tested. When the test comes back clean, the animal can be butchered and eaten.

However, a restaurant kitchen is not an abattoir and there's a high risk of cross-contamination. Think about the fur, the dust, the lice or other insects on the carcass. This means a restaurant should not butcher animals. Period.

If you take a road-kill home, take a sample (the tongue) to the local vet.

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  • Does it mean that my friends in Maine who deliberately install a a police-grade grill on their trucks to "hunt" for deer in the backwoods which seem to voluntarily run into vehicles, are spreading diseases in an approved and legal manner when they distribute their cuts to friends and colleagues? – Cynthia Avishegnath Apr 30 '18 at 3:38
  • @CynthiaAvishegnath, to say that they "are spreading diseases" would be conjecture. They "may be spreading diseases". A sample should be taken to the vet for testing... to reduce risks. – BaffledCook Apr 30 '18 at 8:13

In Alaska moose roadkill is a common occurrence. Each one represents hundreds of pounds of perfectly usable meat.

The state maintains a waiting list of charities that are called to butcher and distribute the dead animals.

Obviously the health risk in Alaska is much lower than in Kentucky just because of the lower average temperature.

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    I seriously doubt that charities would be allowed to take and butcher the animals. What they probably do is to take them to an abattoir, have them examined and butchered. – nico Oct 7 '12 at 16:37
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    @nico- I have been personally seen groups that were called by the state, field dressed the moose, and distributed the meat. I don't know of what examination process the meat may have gone through. – Sobachatina Oct 7 '12 at 18:08
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    well, then they were not butchering the animals themselves... – nico Oct 8 '12 at 5:43

There is no difference how it dies, by bow, shotgun or truck. The only concern is what diseases the animal may have but you have those same concerns if you're a hunter.

Now, I own a restaurant but I don't know what our inspector would say if I started butchering animals we dragged in off the street. While he may be fine with it, it's the appearance to the unknowing customer that may cause problems and, possibly, nothing beyond that.

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    Even if you went hunting in the forest you would not be allowed to butcher animals in your restaurant. – nico Oct 7 '12 at 16:39
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    many restaurants I've been to in coastal and lakeside locations allow customers to bring in their catch (fish, obviously) and the restaurant will serve it for you cooked up. Can't see why it'd not be different with a restaurant allowing you to bring in your freshly killed hare or deer for them to prepare :) But yes, the law's likely different. – jwenting Oct 11 '12 at 11:48

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