Forestry England wild venison on the menu at East Lancashire hospitals
A collaboration between Forestry England, Highland Game and the East Lancashire Hospital Trust (ELHT) is putting locally sourced wild venison on the menu – to the delight of patients and staff.
The organisations have been working together to put more than 1000kg of wild venison from the nearby Forest of Bowland on East Lancashire Hospital Trust’s menus since April 2021, with ELHT’s award-winning catering team creating delectable dishes which have quickly ranked as favourites among hospital staff and patients alike.
Since venison dishes came on the menu in April 2021, they have become the most chosen menu items on the days they were available. In December, the Trust’s Venison and Winter Vegetable Pie and Lancashire Venison and Mash Casserole dishes regularly accounted for 33-50% of patient meal choices.
ELHT is a Bronze Food for Life Served Here award holder and serves meals to patients and staff in five hospitals across the region. For Facilities Manager Tim Radcliffe, wild venison ticks all the boxes of the Trust’s goals from sustainability to health:
"We want to give patients and staff the very best food we can. As meats go, venison is low in fat and has good nutrients to aid recovery and promote good patient health."
"Wild venison is a cost neutral option in comparison to other meats – and if you can buy high quality, sustainable ingredients that has been sourced from within 20 miles, why would you ever consider importing meat? Working with Forestry England and Highland Game we can get venison straight from the Forest of Bowland so it could not get any more local."
In addition to great taste, wild venison is arguably the UK’s most sustainable meat. Forestry England’s venison is 100% wild, lead-free and from well managed forests. Deer populations across the UK have skyrocketed in recent years because they have no natural predators. This has resulted in devastating effects on the environment as deer forage on plants and shrubs that form habitats for other, rarer species, and damage young trees as they grow. Forestry England, which manages England’s 1500 forests and woodlands, culls deer as part of its sustainable forest management programme.
"Encouraging more people to eat wild venison is better for biodiversity and helps protect our future forests,"
says Forestry England’s Lead Wildlife Manager Nigel Foster.
"Our main objective for culling is always forest management, rather than wild meat production. With more people becoming aware of the climate and other challenges associated with intensively farmed animals, wild venison is a great solution for those wanting to eat less but better quality meat."
Highland Game processes and supplies the venison to ELHT. Managing Director Christian Nissen said:
"Highland Game is delighted to be working in partnership with Forestry England and the NHS on this exciting project and we are committed to ensuring the highest quality and safety controls to help more people enjoy this delicious, healthy, and naturally abundant product. Wild venison from Highland Game is expertly sourced and handled along every step of the supply chain, from best-in-class forestry rangers and larders through to our market leading BRC AA grade factory. Here we handle and process to the highest standards guaranteeing that quality, food safety and presentation are the very best and in doing so help further raise the appeal of wild venison."
Notes to Editor
1. Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 363 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and enhance forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. We are continuing the work we have already started to make the nation’s forests resilient to climate change and by 2026 we will:
· create at least 6,000 more hectares where we integrate wilding activities in our productive forests.
· increase the diversity of visitors to the nation’s forests and have one million hours of high-quality volunteer time given to the nation’s forests
· plant at least 2,000 hectares of new, high quality, predominantly broadleaf woodlands
· For more information visit forestryengland.uk Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.