We don’t recommend anyone serve raw red meat of any kind due to the risk of toxoplasmosis.
This is a very common single cell parasite found in most red meats (Toxoplasma gondii). It can be killed by exposure to temperatures of 60 degrees C for 3 minutes, which is the same as cooking to medium rare.
It is transmitted to grazing animals by eating grass or grain contaminated with faecal matter from feral cats, who shed it.
Toxo can be transmitted to humans by eating infected raw meat (or unwashed garden vegetables). It is harmless to most healthy people. Approximately 70% of Australians at any one time will test sero-positive for toxo, indicating they have recently been exposed.
Toxo can have serious consequences, however
for immunocompromised, pregnant, or elderly people.
Infection levels of toxoplasmosis in Tasmanian wallaby are less than 10%, much lower than the approximately 80% level recorded in mature sheep and 30% in lambs. So, whilst the toxo risk from eating raw wallaby meat is low (and much lower than for other red meats), there is nonetheless a risk.
The consequences could be serious if a pregnant woman ate a wallaby tartare dish and contracted toxoplasmosis.
Toxo infection cannot be conclusively detected in post-mortem inspection. Late stages of infection in wallaby presents as blindness and loss of co-ordination. These animals are identifiable in the field and don’t make it to our premise, but in very early stages or very low levels of infection there is nothing we can do to detect it. The only reliable protection is to cook meat to 60 degrees for 3 minutes.
We give the same advice to all chefs wanting to serve tartare.