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Objective—To measure the relationship between gross lesions in swine carcasses observed at a processing plant and Salmonella contamination and to determine whether nonexpert assessments of lesion status would correspond with swine pathologists' judgments.

Animals—Carcasses of 202 conventionally raised and 156 antimicrobial-free pigs in a Midwestern US processing plant examined from December 2005 to January 2006.

Procedures—4 replicates were conducted. For each, freshly eviscerated carcasses were identified as having or lacking visceral adhesions by a nonexpert evaluator and digital carcass photographs were obtained. Swab specimens were obtained from carcasses before the final rinse stage of processing, and bacterial culture for Salmonella spp and Enterococcus spp was performed. Subsequently, carcass photographs were numerically scored for lesion severity by 3 veterinary pathologists. Results were used to test the ability of lesion detection to predict bacterial contamination of carcasses and the agreement between judgments of the inexperienced and experienced assessors.

Results—The probability of Salmonella contamination in carcasses with lesions identified at the abattoir was 90% higher than that in carcasses lacking lesions, after controlling for replicate identity and antimicrobial use. The receiver operating characteristic curve and Cohen κ indicated close agreement between lesion detection at the abattoir and by the 3 pathologists.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings indicated the presence of lesions could be used to predict Salmonella contamination of swine carcasses and that a nonexpert processing-line assessment of lesions could be used to discriminate between healthy and chronically ill swine before their entry into the human food supply.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research