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Open Access Research article

Suitability of bovine portion condemnations at provincially-inspected abattoirs in Ontario Canada for food animal syndromic surveillance

Gillian D Alton1*, David L Pearl1, Ken G Bateman1, W Bruce McNab2 and Olaf Berke1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada

2 Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, Guelph, ON, N1G 4Y2, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:88  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-88

Published: 22 June 2012



Abattoir condemnations may play an important role in a food animal syndromic surveillance system. Portion condemnation data may be particularly useful, as these data can provide more specific information on health outcomes than whole carcass condemnation data. Various seasonal, secular, disease, and non-disease factors have been previously identified to be associated with whole carcass condemnation rates in Ontario provincial abattoirs; and if ignored, may bias the results of quantitative disease surveillance methods. The objective of this study was to identify various seasonal, secular, and abattoir characteristic factors that may be associated with bovine portion condemnation rates and compare how these variables may differ from previously identified factors associated with bovine whole carcass condemnation rates.


Data were collected from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association regarding “parasitic liver” and pneumonic lung condemnation rates for different cattle classes, abattoir compliance ratings, and the monthly sales-yard price for commodity classes from 2001-2007. To control for clustering by abattoirs, multi-level Poisson modeling was used to investigate the association between the following variables and “parasitic liver” as well as pneumonic lung condemnation rates: year, season, annual abattoir audit rating, geographic region, annual abattoir operating time, annual total number of animals processed, animal class, and commodity sales price.


In this study, “parasitic liver” condemnation rates were associated with year, season, animal class, audit rating, and region. Pneumonic lung condemnation rates were associated with year, season, animal class, region, audit rating, number of cattle processed per year, and number of weeks abattoirs processed cattle. Unlike previous models based on whole carcass condemnations, commodity price was not associated with partial condemnations in this study. The results identified material-specific predictor variables for condemnation rates. This is important for syndromic surveillance based on abattoir data and should be modeled and controlled for during quantitative surveillance analysis on a portion specific basis.