handling and processing deer
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a fatal disease that attacks whitetail deer, blacktail deer, mule deer,
and elk. Scientists believe it is caused by a protein called a prion. Prions concentrate where there is a lot of
nerve tissue, such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, and in the lymph nodes and spleen. Prions haven't been
found in meat (muscle tissue). Because we know where prions are found, it is
recommended that these common-sense measures to remove prions from venison products.
According to the
World Health Organization, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease passes to human beings.
Do not eat the eyes, brain, spinal cord, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of any deer.
Do not eat any part of a deer that appears sick.
If your deer is sampled for CWD testing, wait for the test results before eating the meat.|
Wear rubber or latex gloves.
Minimize contact with the brain, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes (lumps of tissue next
to organs or in fat and membranes) as you work.
Do not use household knives or utensils.
Remove all internal organs.
Clean knives and equipment of residue and disinfect with a 50/50 solution of household
chlorine bleach and water. Wipe down counters and let them dry; soak knives for 1 hour.
Wear rubber or latex gloves.
Minimize handling brain or spinal tissues. If
removing antlers, use a saw designated for that
purpose only, and dispose of the blade.
Do not cut through the spinal column except to
remove the head. Use a knife designated only for
Bone out the meat from the deer and remove all
fat and connective tissue (the web-like
membranes attached to the meat). This will also
remove lymph nodes.
Dispose of hide, brain and spinal cord, eyes,
spleen, tonsils, bones, and head in a landfill or by
other means available in your area.
Thoroughly clean and sanitize equipment and
work areas with bleach water after processing.
- Never eat meat from a deer that looks
- Never eat a deer's:
- To be sure you've removed all of the
parts listed above:
- -Gut the deer
-Remove the head
-Cut meat from the bone with a knife;
don't cut through bones
-Remove all fat, membranes and cords
from the meat
What parts can I use?|
There are some parts of the deer you should never
eat, even if the animal looks healthy. These parts are
listed at left. They are mostly nervous system tissues,
where prions concentrate. Prions, which cause
CWD, have not been found in muscle tissue (meat).
You can easily find the brain, eyeballs, and spinal
cord. The spleen is an internal organ in the animal's
midsection. Lymph nodes are lumps or knobs of
tissue. Some are next to internal organs. Others are
embedded in fat and membranes attached to
You don't need to know exactly where the spleen
and lymph nodes are, because normal field dressing
and trimming fat from meat will remove them. We've
shown some main locations of lymph nodes in the
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State of Illinois Department of Agriculture
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Springfield, IL 62794-9281
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