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Potential for Disruption of Central Nervous System Tissue in Beef Cattle by Different Types of Captive Bolt Stunners

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The application of pneumatic-powered air injection stunners (PPAISs), pneumatic-powered stunners (PPSs), and cartridge-fired stunners (CFSs) in commercial beef slaughter plants was evaluated to determine the extent of dissemination of central nervous system tissue. Fifteen beef slaughter plants in the western and central United States were visited to observe stunning methods and the condition of the hearts at postmortem inspection. As inspectors performed the normal opening of the hearts, the research observer evaluated the contents of the heart for the presence of clots and/or visible tissue segments in the right ventricle. In eight plants where PPAISs were used, 33% of hearts examined (n = 1,050) contained large clots in the right ventricles. In the four plants where CFSs were used, 1% of the hearts (n = 480) contained detectable clots. In three plants where the newly modified PPSs were used, 12% of the hearts (n = 450) contained detectable clots. Large segments of spinal cord were detected, collected, photographed, and confirmed histologically from two hearts in a plant that used a PPAIS. Most of the material was found in a single right ventricle and was composed of 10 to 13 cm segments of spinal cord.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Red Meat Safety, Department of Animal Sciences 2: Department of Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171, USA

Publication date: April 1, 1999

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