Photo: Pen Waggener, Flickr
Several news sources have recently pondered, is roadkill safe to eat?
The answer? Well, sort of.
On the pro-roadkill eating side:
If an animal was recently killed but otherwise healthy, the meat is actually much fresher than what you might find in a grocery store, explained Steve Rinella of the Travel Channel's "The Wild Within" on HuffPost Food recently (see his video of finding and preparing raccoon roadkill, after the jump). Daniel Klein of "The Perennial Palate" has a similar philosophy in this video, in which he prepares venison tartare from a deer collected from the side of the road that was "still steaming."
Even PETA basically agrees with both men. The animal-rights group advises, "If people must eat animal carcasses, roadkill is a superior option to the neatly shrink-wrapped plastic packages of meat in the supermarket."
Most recently, Food Safety News interviewed several roadkill-eating enthusiasts and gathered that there are a few good general rules of thumb to follow, such as the fact that eating roadkill in the winter may be safer since the animal is essentially refrigerated upon its death. Rinella adds that for raccoons, when the blood has not yet coagulated and the hair is not oily, those are both good signs that the animal was recently killed and therefore okay to eat.
Laws vary state by state, but in some states, eating roadkill is encouraged, usually via the game warden phoning interested individuals when a fresh carcass is found. In Alaska, roadkill meat is distributed to charities, after being sent to a volunteer butcher.
On the anti-roadkill eating side:
It can be hard to tell the health of an animal after it has died, so Slate advises to be wary of tularemia or "rabbit fever," a bacterial infection transmitted by inhalation, when taking rabbits from the roadside.
Additionally, animals raised for slaughter typically go through food safety checks that roadkill animals are obviously not subjected to.
So, how does one know if the recently killed deer on the side of the road will make a healthy venison stew? Well, one can never be sure, though based on the clip below, perhaps we should be incorporating more raccoon into our diets.