Waitrose to stop selling game killed with lead shot, following warning over health risks

Waitrose is to ban the sale of birds shot with lead - PA
Waitrose is to ban the sale of birds shot with lead - PA

Waitrose, which has seen record sales of game, is to ban the sale of birds shot with lead, it emerged tonight.

The move was welcomed by the Lead Ammunition Group, the government’s independent expert group, which has warned that the only way to reduce the risk to human health and wildlife is to use alternative, non-toxic ammunition instead.

Waitrose will begin phasing out the use of lead shot on the estates from which it sources game during this winter’s shooting season, according to the Guardian.

By the 2020-21 shooting season, all of the supermarket’s game will be “brought to bag” without the use of lead ammunition.

John Gregson, Waitrose’s senior manager of agri-food communications, said: “We expect high standards from our game suppliers and have been really pleased with their support.”

Several scientists and experts, including the former government adviser Prof Lord John Krebs and the Oxford academic Prof Christopher Perrins, have called on the government to take action on lead shot.

A Waitrose spokesperson said: "From season 2019/20, we will begin phasing out the use of lead shot on the Estates from which we source game, requiring instead that the estates require their guns to use lead alternatives such as steel or bismuth. By season 2020/21 all of our game will be brought to bag without the use of any lead ammunition."

In a letter to the Guardian they warned: “Lead is a potent neurotoxin and presents health risks to people who eat game shot with lead ammunition frequently – especially children and pregnant women.

“Alternative non-toxic gunshot is available, effective and comparably priced. Indeed, legislation has required its use in Denmark since 1996. How much longer will it take for UK policymakers to catch up?”

The Lead Ammunition Group concluded in 2015, after five years’ research,  that 10,000 children were growing up in households where they were regularly eating sufficient game shot with lead ammunition to cause them “neurodevelopmental harm and other health impairments”.