Is there lead shot in pet food containing pheasant?

My research tells me that there is a risk of minute particles of toxic lead shot being in some pet food, albeit rarely. And I’m referring to the UK and the US at the moment. It is a difficult subject but in the UK a Cambridge scientist has warned that children and pregnant women should not eat pheasant and other game killed with lead shot. In the US lead was banned for wildfowl shooting and, in some states, it is banned for upland hunting but the best of my knowledge, as at 2022 it is not banned from pheasant shooting. If I’m incorrect then please tell me in a comment.

Lead shot is in pheasant shot in game shoots
Lead shot is in pheasant shot in game shoots. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Also, I do know that there are pet foods on the market which either are entirely based on pheasant or they may have some pheasant in them. I’m not going to be very precise because I can’t be that precise as am speculating. I think this is the first time anybody has mentioned the possibility of very small particles of lead shot being in pet food. These particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye but lead is toxic to animals and humans and it can build up in the body over time.

It can harm cognitive development in children and contribute to cardiovascular and kidney damage in adult humans. There is no reason why the same health problems shouldn’t exist for companion animals.

The researchers bought pheasant from a butcher’s shop in Cambridge. They examined the carcasses of eight common pheasants killed with shotgun ammunition on a game shoot at a farm. Fragments of lead smaller than 1/10 of a millimetre in diameter were found in every carcass examined by the researchers.

Some of the meat is said to be “at least 10 times, sometimes a hundred times and occasionally 1000 times the level permitted by EU directives” according to Prof Rhys Green, a Cambridge zoologist.

He has asked the UK government to follow through on proposals to ban lead ammunition. The UK’s Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive launched a two-year review last spring and the Food Standards Agency said that “those who eat lead-shot game should minimise the amount they eat, especially for small game animals”.

Prof Green said: “While led gunshot continues to be used for hunting [in the UK], people who eat pheasants and other similar game birds are very likely to be also consuming a lot of tiny lead fragments”.

The study shows that the assumption that the lead shot embedded in the carcass of a pheasant is removed in preparation for the consumer market is incorrect. Consumers are unwittingly eating lead.

Clearly, my information concerns the UK but some research about the USA indicates a not dissimilar situation because the best of my knowledge lead shot is not banned in the shooting of pheasants. It appears to be called ‘wingshooting’ in the USA. No matter how it is described, it is cruel.

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