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Major London NHS trust now serving venison in sustainability drive

A major London NHS trust is rolling out wild venison across its hospitals in a drive to improve sustainability.

Patients and staff at three of Guy’s and St Thomas’ (GSTT) hospitals began receiving meals with venison from May 16 in a move welcomed by the Countryside Alliance, which has long advocated for greater procurement of game meat in the public sector.  

Venison is a highly sustainable and ethical source of meat as deer are completely free-range animals. The Trust says that all its meat is harvested from Scotland.

There are more deer in the United Kingdom than at any time since the Norman Conquest, and in many places, densities are far too high. Overgrazing by deer has been having a huge impact on other species, as well as the biodiversity of our environment due to the excessive browsing of vegetation, including shooting shrubs and sapling trees, that must be protected so they grow to soak up carbon and help fight climate change.

The Government has recognised that venison is perfect for many hospital patients because it is nutritionally superior, being low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals such as selenium. In tests, it has also been found to be easy to consume for patients with swallowing problems.

Last week, the hospital’s catering team hosted a Venison Theme Day at Shepherds Hall Restaurant to celebrate the introduction of this sustainable meat to their menus.

Nedko Rusev, Catering Chef Manager at GSST, said:

“We have been working on this project for over a year, and I am so pleased that we are now able to introduce this sustainable, healthier, and delicious red meat to the menu at our hospitals for our patients and staff to enjoy.”

In 2021, East Lancashire Hospital Trust began serving venison culled by Forestry England just 13 miles away in the Forest of Boland and Grizedale to its patients. The Countryside Alliance  has also supported a pilot scheme of six other NHS Trusts trialling pheasant, partridge and venison on their menus as part of a project driven by British Game Assurance. 

Roger Seddon, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said:

"This is incredibly welcome news and we wish Chef Ned and the excellent team at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust every success. Serving venison not only benefits public health but also the environment, by reducing carbon emissions and supporting culling operations that are essential for maintaining biodiversity. We hope to see many more NHS trusts follow this excellent initiative". 

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