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Game handling

1. If a person is selling game on an occasional basis (once per week) locally and direct to the final consumer or to local retail outlets either as game meat or as a primary product then that person does not have to:

  • be registered with the local authority
  • have a food safety management system based upon HACCP principles
  • be a trained hunter
  • comply with the transport provisions of the 852/2004 Regulations
  • comply with the general and specific hygiene provisions of Regulation EC No. 852/2004

Compliance with general food law regulation, however, still applies which makes it an offence to place unsafe food on the market or to falsely describe that food.

As such it would be expected that hunters maintain a basic record of what, when, quantities hunted and to whom and when it was sold, this is particularly important for tracing outbreaks relating to Tuberculosis (TB).

2. If small quantities of game are supplied locally and direct on a regular basis i.e. more than once per week the following apply:

Primary Product:

The hunter has to be registered with the LA and comply with food law regulations but does not have to put in place a food safety management system based upon HACCP principles or comply with the transport provisions or have to be a trained hunter.

The definition of a primary product is one that is killed by hunters and is un-skinned and that have only undergone any necessary gralloching in the field as a part of normal hunting practice. 

Game Meat:

The hunter does have to comply with the general food law regulations, register with the LA, have a food safety management system in place and comply with the specific hygiene provisions of EC Regulation No. 852/2004

The definition of game meat is: edible parts of the animal beyond primary production (e.g. skinned, jointed, sliced etc.)

For both primary product and game meat, a separate processing area for skinning and eviscerating carcasses is required.

The Primary Producer exemption may apply to the supply of small quantities of in-fur/ carcasses either direct to the final consumer and/or to local retailers that directly supply the final consumer.

The definition of local supply is within the supplying establishment's own County plus the greater of either the neighbouring county or counties or 50km/30 miles from the boundary of the supplying establishment's county.

Direct supply to the final consumer is not restricted by what is local. An individual or an estate can supply final consumers who order from them via the internet/mail order as well as those who collect themselves. Small quantities can also be supplied to local retailers/caterers. 

Members of hunting parties and individual hunters are exempt from having to develop their premises into an approved game-handling establishment (AGHE). All game must have been shot by hunting party members (it cannot be sourced from others) and can be prepared into meat by any one (or more) of the party.

The Game Act 1931, Game Licences Act 1860 and the Deer Act 1991 form part of a large body of law which controls killing, taking and dealing in game (including deer). Much of the law is intended to prevent poaching. However, from 1st August 2007 the requirements for licences to take kill or deal in game were repealed by The Regulatory Reform (Game) Order 2007.

Although licences are no longer required for these activities, restrictions on poaching and taking game out of season still apply and the body that enforces this is DEFRA. This means that those who deal in game no longer have to hold a local authority licence or an excise licence. Restrictions on dealing with game birds and venison during the close season will no longer apply. This means that anyone will be allowed to sell game and venison all year round provided the animals in question were lawfully killed.

Record keeping and traceability

There is no longer a requirement to keep records under Section 11 of the Deer Act 1991, relating to the sale and purchase of venison, but records to the level specified in EC Regulation 178/2002 must be kept if you sell game birds or venison. This requirement applies to the hunter as well as game dealers and retailers, caterers or wholesalers who sell game birds or venison. The business must hold records with a level of detail commensurate with the size and nature of the activities. 

Game dealers must check the source before sale, offer or exposure for sale or possess or transport for purposes for sale. This is because it would be an offence if they knew or had reason to believe that the game bird or venison offered for sale was unlawfully killed, taken or poached during the close season.

The 2007 Regulatory Reform Regulations also remove the requirement for a licence to kill or take game.


Any enquiries please contact the Public Health and Licensing on (01539) 733333 or email