Wild Justice testing Sainsbury’s gamebird meat for toxic lead ammunition

Last October Sainsbury’s started to sell gamebirds from a supplier in North Yorkshire, but has repeatedly refused to address customers’ concerns about the provenance of those pheasants and partridges, i.e. on which estates were they shot and what are those estates’ environmental credentials?

Sainsbury’s also claims, apparently without testing, that the gamebird meat it’s selling does not contain toxic lead ammunition (see previous blogs here, here and here).

[Photos by Dr Rob Sheldon]

Since then others have continued to press Sainsbury’s for information about whether these products contain poisonous lead ammunition but Sainsbury’s has continued to dodge the questions, instead directing customers to its supplier in North Yorkshire, who so far has ignored all requests for information (e.g. see Rob Sheldon’s blog here).

Wild Justice has lost patience with Sainsbury’s and is paying to have the products independently tested at a specialist laboratory. The results may show that this gamebird meat does not contain toxic lead ammunition, in which case great! At least everyone will know with certainty and transparency, instead of having to reply upon the crossing of fingers and hoping for the best.

For more details, please visit the Wild Justice blog here

23 Responses to “Wild Justice testing Sainsbury’s gamebird meat for toxic lead ammunition”

  1. 1 Dougie
    February 15, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Whatever the outcome of the lab test Sainsbury’s have backed a loser.

    If the test reveals contamination then Sainsbury’s have a big problem.

    If the test does not reveal contamination then Sainsbury’s are left in the situation where it required 3rd party intervention (and expense) to ascertain that their meat is safe.

    Any responsible food retailer should act instantly when doubts about contamination are raised.
    I have always had a high regard for Sainsbury’s. I am astonished by them.

  2. 2 James Burt
    February 15, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    That’s very proactive and excellent

  3. 3 Paul V Irving
    February 15, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    My money would be on the diced casserole meat being the more likely to contain lead, as that meat may be “harvested from badly shot birds! Sainsburys is going to look pretty dumb whatever the result no lead– fine but why didn’t they say so and why, Lead then they are rightly condemned. Lesson to Sainsburys the potential customer is always right!

  4. 4 Hilary MacBean
    February 15, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    What does the Food Standards Agency have to say on this? Is the set standard behind the curve? Good job WJ, for highlighting the issue. We count on the reliability of mass food suppliers and Sainsbury’s have a reputation for doing a good job. Why are they sqandering it?
    Lead shot should not be out in the environment at all.

  5. 6 Nick Rollings
    February 15, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Has anybody ever had lead poisoning from eating game birds?

  6. 8 Pip.
    February 15, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    One would presume that the “meat” had gone through an x-ray checker for gross contamination before being shipped out. I suppose all, or most, foodstuffs contain lead in some proportion and I take it that there is an “acceptable ” level for this and time will tell what the lab finds in the samples. But anyway it should be the retailer taking the lead with this if there is any public concern , if only to protect their reputation .

    • 9 Keith Dancey
      February 17, 2021 at 11:12 pm

      “I suppose all, or most, foodstuffs contain lead in some proportion…”

      Why do you think that “all, or most, foodstuffs’ contain a highly dangerous heavy metal such as lead?

      “I take it that there is an “acceptable ” level for this (lead in food)”

      No, there is no ‘safe’ level for the ingestion of lead. The damage lead causes to the nervous system cannot be reversed, and once you have consumed it, the body cannot get rid of it without the intervention of a medical process.

      It is so damn dangerous that we have banned it from fishing weights, paint and petrol. How much paint and petrol does the average person ingest? We banned it in water pipes to prevent the cumulative ingestion of trace amounts over time but – because of long-standing vested interests, the shooting industry – have not banned it from ‘game’ sold as ‘food’ to people who know no better.

      The WHO say this:

      “Lead poisoning and health
      23 August 2019

      Key facts

      Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.

      Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.

      Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.

      There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.

      Lead exposure is preventable.”

      Unless you live in a country which values shooting over-and-above the health and safety of its citizens. So, why hasn’t the FSA banned lead in all food?

  7. 10 Nimby
    February 16, 2021 at 9:36 am

    I suppose also that whatever the result, it’s a case of that batch being +ve or -ve for levels of lead. For Sainsbury’s to show responsible retail they’d have to require supplier test every batch and let the public know this via truthful labeling (including that there is risk associated with lead in product? You know, a bit like bakery product allergen labels warning of possible risk from nuts.

    If +ve will Sainsbury’s respond in a proactive way after their ‘silence’? They need to be incredibly confident if they don’t want to alienate customers, or have they made so much during the pandemic they can weather a potential outcry?

    If +ve will the MSM report it?

  8. 11 Spaghnum Morose
    February 16, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I wonder what the poultry farmers make of this. They have a lot of red-tape to go through to put their chicken products on the shelves, yet further down the aisle a rival product simply relies on the integrity of Old Ted the keeper & his rearing, handling and storage methods. And the culling method – do customers realise for every 10 -12 birds put on the shelf there will be one or more birds badly pelleted on the shoot day, not recovered by the pickers-up and laid up in the thick undergrowth to die slowly over a few days – or get snaffled overnight by a Fox.

  9. 12 Mobo
    February 16, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    It should be possible for these people to check for lead shot – detectorist-type equipment should pick it up. I detest shooting for sport but also detest waste – bags of shot birds etc. dumped in bin bags or used in stink pits. When we had a local Farmers’ Market I used to buy pheasant and pigeon breasts, venison etc. I decided that it was better to make good use of the meat. I don’t think I was encouraging the slaughter, just making the best of a bad job. Never found any shot. Was I wrong to do this ?

    • 13 Keith Dancey
      February 17, 2021 at 11:21 pm

      “It should be possible for these people to check for lead shot – detectorist-type equipment should pick it up”

      Irrelevant. Most people would spit out a piece of lead shot, but what you cannot spit out is the lead which has leached into the meat surrounding the lead shot, and the microscopic spallation products produced when high speed lead is fired into meat and bone.

      Why would a Government ban lead in paint and petrol but allow lead in food stuffs, if it wasn’t corrupt? There is no safe level of lead in the human body.

  10. 14 Chris P Carter
    February 16, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    This is certainly one of Wild Justice’s most embarrassing posts and makes it clear to everyone that you simply want all shooting banned. Trying to stop shooting via the back door on the basis of the meat being toxic with the intention of forcing it to go to waste is just shocking and shows you do not have a clue about the countryside and farming communities. People have been eating it for hundreds of years without harm. It doesn’t fool anyone and just ensures even less people will take you seriously.

  11. 19 Wot Do I Know
    February 17, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    All these links on how harmful lead in our food can be, yet the NHS do not publish figures on the number of patients treated for lead poisoning through ingestion of contaminated food. Why is that? Could it be the numbers are so low, they are insignificant?

    Secondly, why forward samples for testing which are not forensically secure, having been removed from the point of sale packaging and repackaged into (ironically) Sainsbury sandwich bags?

    • February 17, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Well I don’t know about you but I tend to prefer to rely upon the scientific evidence and expert opinion of, literally, hundreds of scientists rather than the opinion of some anonymous troll with a probable vested interest in retaining toxic lead ammo.

      Re: the samples from Sainsbury’s. If you take the time to bother to read some of the scientific papers instead of simply dismissing them, you’ll see there are a variety of methods used when prepping samples for analysis, depending on what, exactly, the analysis is designed to determine. In this case, the method was chosen by the expert scientist who is undertaking the analysis and was carried out to the letter by the scientist we paid to procure the samples.

      Oh, and as you’re blocked on my social media channels, for very good reason, this is the last comment of yours that’ll be published on here.

    • 21 Keith Dancey
      February 17, 2021 at 11:44 pm

      “yet the NHS do not publish figures on the number of patients treated for lead poisoning through ingestion of contaminated food”

      45 cases of lead exposure in children were notified to Public Health England (PHE) in 2018, whereas in 2017 there were 50 cases of lead exposure in children notified to Public Health England (PHE)

      The WHO also publish figures on the dangers of ingesting lead:

      “The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated that in 2017, lead exposure accounted for 1.06 million deaths and 24.4 million years of healthy life lost (disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)) worldwide due to long-term effects on health. The highest burden was in low- and middle-income countries. IHME also estimated that in 2016, lead exposure accounted for 63.2% of the global burden of idiopathic developmental intellectual disability, 10.3% of the global burden of hypertensive heart disease, 5.6% of the global burden of the ischaemic heart disease and 6.2% of the global burden of stroke”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 7,350,056 hits


Our recent blog visitors