Tom Kitchin and Saturday Kitchen Live

I’m quite surprised by how many readers of this blog are (apparently) devotees of Saturday Kitchen Live – personally I’d never heard of it until this weekend. But they had the chef Tom Kitchin (I bet he gets even more remarks about nominative determinism than I do) preparing a grouse, black pudding and something else sandwich this Saturday.  It looked quite yummy.

Although Saturday Kitchen stated on Twitter (@SaturdayKitchen) that ‘Yes we will be addressing sourcing lead free Grouse!’ I must have missed that bit. Did anyone else catch it?

There was a question from presenter Matt Tebbutt about lead in grouse more or less as follows;

Matt Tebbutt: So Tom what about the shot, and people sort of get concerned about the shot when they, when they get it.

Tom Kitchin: Yep. No. You have to be aware that it is a wild bird and it has to be shot to be, y’know, to, for us, in order to eat it.  So just be really aware of that, y’know. Erm. And. Yeah. It’s a bit like eating shellfish, y’know there is a certain risk, yeah, there is a certain risk.

Matt Tebbutt: But there’s no, there’s no damage with the, with the, fact it’s lead shot?

Tom Kitchin: Not that I am aware of, no.

Well this isn’t Paxman I admit, and who would expect a chef to know anything about the health value of the food he cooks, sells, serves, promotes and writes about?

Well done to Saturday Kitchen for asking the question even though you weren’t prepared to follow it up.

Not so well done Mr Kitchin – here is some reading for you:

Food Standards Agency advice on eating game meat:  ‘Eating lead-shot game on a frequent basis can expose consumers to potentially harmful levels of lead. To minimise the risk of lead intake, people who frequently eat lead-shot game, particularly small game, should cut down their consumption. This is especially important for vulnerable groups such as toddlers and children, pregnant women and women trying for a baby, as exposure to lead can harm the developing brain and nervous system.’.

Lead Ammunition Group report: ‘The consumption of meat from wild game animals killed using lead ammunition poses risks to some high-level consumers of wild game.  The risks are very low for the general population who consume wild game infrequently. The number of high-level consumers subjected to elevated risk cannot be estimated precisely, but approximate calculations indicate that the number is likely to be tens of thousands in UK. Potential adverse effects on the health of high-level consumers include reduced intelligence and cognitive function of children, increased risk of spontaneous abortion in pregnant women and cardiovascular effects and chronic kidney disease in adults.‘.

Oxford Lead Symposium: ‘Lead ammunition may be traditional (Cromie et al. 2015) but it is doubtful whether future generations would perpetuate a tradition of knowingly adding lead to food or exposing wildlife to poisoning. It will be for politicians to decide whether these wildlife and human health risks and impacts combined are sufficient to require sports shooters in the UK to use the non-toxic ammunition available, and to set a timetable for implementing the recommendation, made in 1983, of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. The Lord Krebs Kt, MA, DPhil, FRS, FMedSci, Hon DSc.‘.

The Fareshare website (a charity distributing food to the poor and needy): ‘FareShare’s guidance on wild game.  FareShare can accept wild game providing it meets EU standards for human consumption.  Following FSA advice, we are unable to redistribute game to charities where pregnant women or women trying for children, toddlers or children are being fed.  Wild game products must always be accompanied by on-pack labelling guidance regarding frequency of use and suitable consumers.’.

Analysis of 40 Red Grouse carcases by this website: ‘Three quarters of the grouse meat samples from Iceland Foods which I had tested would have been illegal if they had been found in other meat (though they were legal in game meat). A third of the samples had ten times the levels that would be legal in non-game meat.’




So, Mr Kitchin, the next time that you are asked about lead shot – what will you say?

And in your Leith restaurant you make a big deal of serving grouse – maybe you could have a little think about the lead issue, please? How about trying to source your game from estates using non-toxic shot (or bullets for venison) for a start? If you did then you’d be setting a very good example. You’ll find it difficult, to the point of impossibility I suspect, to source grouse shot with steel. That’s probably because the estates don’t have to carry the can of the food quality of their grouse – you do!

And do you get your grouse from the Lammermuirs by any chance? That’ll be these Lammermuirs

And blocking me on Twitter won’t make this issue go away.





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9 Replies to “Tom Kitchin and Saturday Kitchen Live”

  1. Alexander Armstrong was on this programme, which my wife watches, a while back and said that grouse was one of the healthiest foods available. Hmm!

    1. Would that be the same Alexander Armstrong who's such a keen supporter of the Countryside Alliance that he's appeared in their adverts, magazine and whose photo has popped up in the Tattler at their events? It's a good thing that we "armchair conservationists" aren't as childish as the self-styled "real conservationists" or we'd be clamouring for him to be sacked .....

  2. The BBC Two show "Royal Recipes" featured leadshot game and didn't even bother to raise the question... It is always one step forward two steps back with these people.

  3. It always amazes me that the people like Tom Kitchin within the food industry seem to suffer from a wilful blindness when it comes to lead shot game. Its not rocket science virtually every piece of expert advice about such meat is that we should really avoid it. There are plenty of less toxic alternatives to lead shot meat and of course there are alternatives to lead ammunition. Get with it you guys,rather than clean up its act and use nontoxic shot the game industry is going to let your reputations be damaged and possibly destroyed when you are increasingly pilloried for using lead shot meat.
    ANSWER simple insist on game shot with nontoxic shot!

  4. I asked my local specialist butcher in Malton what he did about lead shot in his grouse. The answer: they are shot with steel shot. He was unable to confirm this, but as he is usually truthful about his meat- which is well-hung and from verfiable/ traceable sources- I was intrigued. I will seek a bit more clarity when next in town.

    1. Tim - thank you. I would be very interested to hear the result of that.

      Restaurateurs to whom I have spoken and who tried to source lead-free grouse, pheasant and partridge have met with failure. That's my experience.

  5. I very much doubt Tom Kitchin got where he is today by producing a menu cheap enough to allow frequent consumption of grouse or any other lead-shot game

    1. Not for the plebs, but the super rich are so much richer these days so that no matter what he charges they can afford it. And these are the people who are our corporate overlords and the people who are pulling the strings of our MPs.

  6. Kitchin also owns a gastropub in Edinburgh, the Scran and Scallie in Stockbridge. It's popular but what the online menu does not tell you is that they also sell grouse (or did last year) as a 'special'. So we had a choice of either leaving or staying and complaining; and chose the latter. Best just not to go, until Kitchin is more ethical in his sourcing.


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