Value of simplified lung lesions scoring systems to inform future codes for routine meat inspection in pigs

Joana Pessoa*, Conor McAloon, Laura Boyle, Edgar Garcia Manzanilla, Tomas Norton, Maria Rodrigues da Costa

*Corresponding author for this work

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Across the European Union (EU), efforts are being made to achieve modernisation and harmonisation of meat inspection (MI) code systems. Lung lesions were prioritised as important animal based measures at slaughter, but existing standardized protocols are difficult to implement for routine MI. This study aimed to compare the informative value and feasibility of simplified lung lesion scoring systems to inform future codes for routine post mortem MI.

Data on lung lesions in finisher pigs were collected at slaughter targeting 83 Irish pig farms, with 201 batches assessed, comprising 31,655 pairs of lungs. Lungs were scored for cranioventral pulmonary consolidations (CVPC) and pleurisy lesions using detailed scoring systems, which were considered the gold standard. Using the data collected, scenarios for possible simplified scoring systems to record CVPC (n = 4) and pleurisy (n = 4) lesions were defined. The measurable outcomes were the prevalence and (if possible) severity scoring at batch level for CVPC and pleurisy. An arbitrary threshold was set to the upper quartile (i.e., the top 25% of batches with high prevalence/severity of CVPC or pleurisy, n = 50). Each pair of measurable outcomes was compared by calculating Spearman rank correlations and assessing if batches above the threshold for one measurable outcome were also above it for their pairwise comparison. All scenarios showed perfect agreement (k = 1) when compared among themselves and the gold standard for the prevalence of CVPC. The agreement among severity outcomes and the gold standard showed moderate to perfect agreement (k = [0.66, 1]). The changes in ranking were negligible for all measurable outcomes of pleurisy for scenarios 1, 2 and 3 when compared with the gold standard (rs ≥ 0.98), but these changes amounted to 50% for scenario 4.

The best simplified CVPC scoring system is to simply count the number of lung lobes affected excluding the intermediate lobe, which provides the best trade-off between value of information and feasibility, by incorporating information on CVPC prevalence and severity. While for pleurisy evaluation, scenario 3 is recommended. This simplified scoring system provides information on the prevalence of cranial and moderate and severe dorsocaudal pleurisy. Further validation of the scoring systems at slaughter and by private veterinarians and farmers is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalPorcine Health Management
Early online date30 Jun 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 30 Jun 2023


  • Abattoir
  • Benchmarking
  • Pig health
  • Pleurisy
  • Pneumonia


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