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PLoS One. 2011 Jan 14;6(1):e15892. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015892.

Bioaccessibility of Pb from ammunition in game meat is affected by cooking treatment.

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Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, CSIC-UCLM-JCCM, Ciudad Real, Spain.



The presence of lead (Pb) ammunition residues in game meat has been widely documented, yet little information exists regarding the bioaccessibility of this Pb contamination. We study how cooking treatment (recipe) can affect Pb bioaccessibility in meat of animals hunted with Pb ammunition.


We used an in vitro gastrointestinal simulation to study bioaccessibility. The simulation was applied to meat from red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) hunted with Pb shot pellets and cooked using various traditional Spanish game recipes involving wine or vinegar. Total Pb concentrations in the meat were higher in samples with visible Pb ammunition by X-ray (mean±SE: 3.29±1.12 µg/g w.w.) than in samples without this evidence (1.28±0.61 µg/g). The percentage of Pb that was bioaccessible within the simulated intestine phase was far higher in meat cooked with vinegar (6.75%) and wine (4.51%) than in uncooked meat (0.7%). Risk assessment simulations using our results transformed to bioavailability and the Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic model (IEUBK; US EPA) show that the use of wine instead of vinegar in cooking recipes may reduce the percentage of children that would be expected to have >10 µg/dl of Pb in blood from 2.08% to 0.26% when game meat represents 50% of the meat in diet.


Lead from ammunition in game meat is more bioaccessible after cooking, especially when using highly acidic recipes. These results are important because existing theoretical models regarding Pb uptake and subsequent risk in humans should take such factors into account.

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