The consumption habits of 766 Italian shooters (96% males, 4% females), on average 52 years old, have been investigated, in Italy, through the distribution of questionnaires delivered during shooters' attendance to training and teaching courses, in compliance with 853/2004/EC Regulation provisions on food hygiene. The most consumed wild species recorded were pheasant > woodcock > choke among feathered animals, and wild boar > hare > roe deer among mammals, respectively. An average of 100-200 g game per serving (four servings per month) was consumed, with highest intakes of 3000 g per month; meat, liver, and heart were the preferred food items. Mammalian and feathered game was regularly consumed with friends and relatives in 83% and in 60% of cases, respectively. Accounting for an inventoried population of 751,876 shooters in Italy, it is estimated that there is regular consumption of wild game in around the 3% of the Italian population. More than 80% of responders were aware of health risks related to game handling and to food safety issues. Due to the occurrence in wild boar meat and liver of the heavy metal cadmium (Cd), the persistent organic pollutant perfluorooctan sulphonic acid (PFOS), and the radionuclide 137cesium (137Cs), it was possible to demonstrate the usefulness of such a food consumption database for intake assessment in this sensitive group of consumers. In high consumers of wild boar, threshold concentrations for intakes have been estimated in the ranges of 48-93 ng g-1 for Cd, 35-67 ng g-1 for PFOS and 0.20-0.34 Bq kg-1 for 137Cs.
Keywords: Italian shooters; contaminants; intake assessment; wild game consumption.