Nearly $8,000 worth of deer meat was discarded at a Louisiana homeless shelter. It was not spoiled or tainted, and to the employees of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, seemed to be perfectly edible. So why was it dumped?
According to CBS Houston, it was because the state health department did not recognize Hunters for the Hungry, a charity that uses hunter donations of meat to feed the needy.
“We didn’t find anything wrong with it,” Rev. Henry Martin, organizer of the homeless shelter, told KTBS. “It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.”
The meat was hunter-taken, which the health department deemed unacceptable because “there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared, or stored.”
The department released a statement that said a complaint was lodged against the mission for using deer meat last month. A health inspector was then sent to evaluate the situation and found roughly 1,600 pounds of venison at the location. It was decided the meat could be potentially unsafe even though it was processed at a reputable slaughterhouse in Bellevue. The venison was then destroyed in a process called “denaturing” so animals could not eat the waste after it was thrown out.
“They threw it in the dumpster and poured Clorox on it,” Martin told KTBS. “Not only are we losing out and it’s costing us money, the people that are hungry aren’t going to get as quality of food, the hunter that’s given his meat in good faith is losing out.”
The Louisiana chapter of Hunters for the Hungry could not be reached for comment.
“While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat,” said the department on their Facebook wall, “we must protect the people who eat at Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public. The State Sanitary Code laws exist to protect all residents of our state, and while sometimes these laws may not be popular, they allow us to ensure the public’s health and safety, and must be followed.”
The Department of Health and Hospitals deactivated its Facebook page for a day due to the level of protests from residents after the story broke. Currently, the agency is working with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to address the future of hunter donations. Discussions will include any changes to legislation that will allow the department to recognize hunter-taken meat as approved foods.
Update: KTBS reports that Foster’s Farm has agreed to donate 1,400 pounds of chicken meat to the mission to replenish their supplies. The Louisiana Cattleman’s Association also stepped in with a $750 check.