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Bill seeks to reverse drop in venison donations

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Tighter rules are being blamed for a sharp drop-off in donations of venison to Minnesota's 300 food shelves.

Since the state began requiring X-rays of donated venison to ensure it's not contaminated with lead from bullet fragments, donations have plunged from 78,500 pounds in 2007 to about 20,000 pounds in 2010.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee, said meat processors are not participating in the program because of all the rules. Minnesota Public Radio reported ( his committee heard testimony but did not vote Tuesday on his bill to loosen the requirements.

"My food shelf person got a hold of me and said, 'You guys really messed up this program, and we're really without a lot of venison opportunity here,'" the Alexandria Republican said.

Greta Gauthier, director of governmental relations for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, testified against the bill. She cited tests that found lead in around a quarter of venison samples checked before the X-ray requirement.

"Hunter-harvested, donated venison is a great source of protein for people coming into food shelves who really need food," Gauthier said. "We just want to make sure that food is safe."

The committee is expected to include Ingebrigtsen's proposal in a larger game-and-fish bill.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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