I’m still trying to get some straightforward answers to some simple questions regarding whether Sainsbury’s sell leaded or unleaded game products. It has taken 60 days and progress has been glacial. See here and here for previous attempts to get some answers.

After my last attempt to get some answers (on the 19th Jan) I got what I thought was a promising reply (on the 20th Jan):

20 Jan response


Rather than just repeatedly churn out the standard corporate response it looked like some more in-depth answers may be more forthcoming. However, I was wrong! On Monday 25th I got the following reply:


Thank you for your patience while I looked into this matter for you and my apologies for the delay in coming back you.

The Branded Holme Farm Venison (HFV) game products are assured by the British Game Alliance (BGA). The British Game Alliance independently audits all shoots participating in the accreditation, ensuring that they are all compliant with the requirements. Sainsbury’s does not sell an own branded game product. You can contact Holme Farmed Venison ( ) to discuss your concerns further.

Lead shot is being phased out, but is still in use, however HFV products only select from meat that has no shot in it. Initially, the meat is visually inspected and then metal detected at the processing site and again visually inspected in the final pack. There are additional warnings on pack that refer to shot to ensure customers are aware of the very small risk that shot may be present.

In relation to your statement on “may contain” – it is common for statements like this to be put on products even where there is a minimal chance of shot being present. This is similar to Sainsbury’s brand boneless products, where we would put a warning “ may contain bone” due to the very small risk of bone being present in the product. It is intended to highlight this to the customer, whilst not expecting bones to be present.

I can only reiterate that you contact the supplier directly as they inspect the game and also metal detects the product when processing to ensure, if present the shot is removed prior to sale.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.


It seems rather remarkable that after 8 emails (I think, I’ve lost count), 2 letters for the attention of the CEO and 60 days, then we are largely back to square one! The above reply essentially reiterates the standard corporate reply that fails to answer any specific questions. Despite seeking answers from ‘within the business’ the only slightly insightful answer is that ‘may contain shot’ is a standard warning along the lines of ‘may contain bone’!

Although I will continue to follow this up, it seems that I can draw my own conclusions based on Sainsbury’s unwillingness to provide simple answers to specific questions. More soon.


Photo credit: Header image by Dr Ruth Tingay.