Carcase condemnation terms

There are many reasons why at slaughter pig carcases may be condemned unsuitable for human consumption. To understand these terms fully, it is necessary to know the meaning of the following veterinary terms.

Table 1. Veterinary terms and their meaning

Acute Recent and generally of a short course. When an infection or inflammation first occurs, it is generally more intense or acute. As time passes the intensity of the condition generally declines and the affected area returns to normal. However, in some circumstances the condition may become chronic. Occasionally, some conditions remain acute for two weeks or more.
Adhesions Sometimes form when certain organs are inflamed. Adhesion means the joining together of tissues and is frequently seen in cases of peritonitis and pleurisy.
Chronic Existing for a longer time with a less intense reaction. Conditions persisting longer than 10 days are said to be chronic.
Infection Can be defined as the invasion of the body or part of the body by disease-causing micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, mycoplasma, fungi or other organisms).
Inflammation The normal healing reaction of living tissues to an injury. Inflamed tissues are hot, swollen, reddened and painful and may have a loss of function. Inflammation is not always associated with infection. Words ending in -itis refer to inflammation of a particular organ; mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland(s), while enteritis refers to inflammation of the intestines.
Lesion Deviation from the normal in a part of the body. All the abnormalities described are lesions.
Lymph nodes These are small structures throughout the body which have an important role in local defence against infection. Each lymph node receives body fluid from a specific area. Certain lymph nodes are routinely inspected at slaughter. Deviations from the normal healthy appearance suggest abnormalities warranting further investigation. When we have a cold or flu, the glands in the neck may swell. This is the response of the lymph nodes in the area. Lymphadenitis means inflammation of a lymph node or nodes.

Table 2. Condemnation terms

Condemnation term

Abscess An accumulation of pus, generally at a chronic site of infection. Abscesses are commonly seen following improper injections, or in cases of tail biting, but may be due to many other causes. Abscesses in lymph nodes of the head are common.
Arthritis Inflammation of the joints. Many cases of arthritis are detected in apparently sound pigs sent for slaughter. In these cases, the joint lymph nodes have changed. When opened, these joints show arthritis and are condemned. The disease erysipelas is often associated with a high incidence of arthritis. Where arthritis is associated with fever or septicaemia, the carcase is condemned.
Bruising Caused by damage to skin and muscle tissue and results in substantial losses to the pig industry. Quiet handling and well-designed yards, races and transport facilities can significantly reduce this loss.
Cancer Is another name for malignant varieties of tumours. Affected carcases are condemned.
Dermatitis Inflammation of the skin commonly caused by parasitic mites (sarcoptic mange) but can be due to other causes such as other biting insects and erysipelas.
Emaciation The animal is in abnormally poor condition or is abnormally thin. This results in total condemnation of a carcass.
Fever An elevated body temperature, which is often due to a generalised infection. Therefore, fever and septicaemia are difficult to distinguish, and are generally seen together. Acute erysipelas and acute enzootic pneumonia are diseases that can cause condemnation due to septicaemia and/or fever. The stress of transportation can cause pneumonia to flare up in a pig, which was apparently normal when it left the property. The flare up can be serious enough to cause a septicaemia, in which case the whole carcass would be condemned. Pigs that die of heatstroke are fevered but do not suffer from septicaemia.
Fractures Broken bones may be reduced with a balance diet providing enough calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Melioidosis A condition caused by a specific bacteria. Abscesses are present in lymph nodes and internal organs. This disease is important as it also occurs in humans. It is mainly seen in north Queensland, but has also occurred in southern parts of the state.
Nephritis An inflammation of the pelvis or core of the kidney. This is generally a chronic accumulation of pus. Pigs affected with kidney worm commonly suffer from pyelonephritis.
Pericarditis Inflammation of the envelope which encloses the heart. Glasser's disease is a common cause of pleurisy, peritonitis and pericarditis in pigs. Affected pigs may also suffer from generalised arthritis.
Peritonitis Inflammation of the lining of the body cavity and the surface of organs within it. Ruptured ulcers lead to peritonitis when the gut wall is no longer intact. There is seepage from the gut into the body cavity and adhesions may form.
Pleurisy Inflammation of the surface of the lungs and the lining of the chest cavity, causing adhesions between the lungs and chest wall. Pigs with pleurisy often suffer from pneumonia too.
Pyaemia Or multiple abscess occurs as a result of pus-producing bacteria circulating in the blood stream. These can result in small abscesses throughout the body. This condition is similar to septicaemia, which is non pus-producing.
Septicaemia A generalised infection in which micro-organisms are present in the blood stream. A pig with an infection throughout the body is suffering from septicaemia.
Septic metritis Inflammation of the uterus generally seen after farrowing. Localised peritonitis and septicaemia sometimes accompany metritis resulting in partial or complete condemnation.
Septic wounds Wounds that are infected by bacteria. They sometimes develop into abscesses. Septic wounds often occur after pig fights.
Sparganosis A parasitic condition seen mainly in wild pigs, which can be transmitted to humans who eat affected meat. For this reason, it is risky to eat meat from wild pigs.
Spirochaetosis, or ulcerative granuloma A specific form of septic wound that frequently produces large infected areas. Castration wounds are most frequently involved but ulcerative granulomas are seen on other parts of the body. The condition is common in piggeries with poor hygiene.