A discussion about the nutritional composition of game meat, with specific focus on wild species harvested in Central and Mediterranean European countries has been conducted. Given the wide range of species, and the climate and vegetation differences among the harvesting areas, game meat shows heterogeneous characteristics and chemical composition, the latter being also affected by sex, age, body condition, physiological and sexual status, and hunting period. However, there are similarities which make it clearly distinguishable from livestock meat. When considering the most consumed species (red and fallow deer, wild boar, hare and wild rabbit), their meat has low fat content (<3 g/100 g for large and <4 g/100 g for small wild game species), high protein content (20–26 g/100 g) and low energy content (90–113 kcal/100 g). Wild game meat has a healthier fatty-acids profile compared to other meats, showing a higher proportion of PUFA, especially n-3, and consequently more favorable PUFA/SAF ratio. Wild ruminants’ meat shows a favorable n-6/n-3 ratio (lower or close to 4). It has a high content of K, followed by P and micro-minerals such as Zn and Fe, together with B-group vitamins and vitamin E. Game meat from wild species harvested in Europe can diversify the market being an alternative to others red meats owing to its nutritional quality and organoleptic characteristics.
Part of the book: Meat and Nutrition