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Home > Licensing, Inspections, Certifications & Testing > Dairy, Meat, Poultry & Egg Inspection > Meat, Poultry & Egg Inspection > Hunter Harvested Venison Donation Program > Proper Handling and Cooking of Venison

Proper Handling and Cooking of Venison

Venison is an excellent source of protein. However, proper preparation and handling of venison is very important to ensure that the venison is safe. By following the precautions listed below, can maximize the safety and quality of the venison you receive.

Storage and Thawing:

  • Venison should be stored frozen until preparation for cooking.
  • Properly wrapped or packaged venison will store in a freezer for 9-12 months.
  • To avoid quality deterioration, never refreeze thawed venison.
  • Always thaw venison properly in a refrigerator or in a microwave. Venison thawed in the microwave should be for immediate use. Venison thawed under refrigeration can be stored for 2-3 days prior to cooking and consuming.
  • Store unfrozen venison under refrigeration (40˚F or less) and prepare within 2-3 days.
  • Keep raw venison separate in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination with other ready to eat foods or ingredients. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don't drip onto other foods.

Handling and Meal Preparation:

  • Marinate venison under refrigeration (40˚F or less). Do not reuse marinades.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by thoroughly washing and rinsing all surfaces or utensils used for raw meat preparation prior to use on cooked or ready to eat foods.
  • Cook all venison thoroughly and serve hot or very cold.
  • Venison should be cooked to at least 165˚F to ensure harmful bacteria are killed.  The color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of when the venison is fully cooked.
  • Use an accurate, calibrated thermometer for monitoring the cooking temperature of the venison.
  • The distinctive wild taste of game animals, including venison, is often associated with the fat in the animal.  Trim visible fat to reduce the "gamey" flavor and add alternative sources for moisture and flavor while cooking (butter, bacon, beef fat, sweet or sour cream, cooking oils, water, or marinades).


MDA Contact

Dairy & Food Inspection Division