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Author Topic: Conditions detected at meat inspection of swine and their judgement  (Read 20114 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
Expert in Bioscience Issues
Posts: 657

« on: June 22, 2012, 05:08:48 am »

Meat is term for the flesh of animals used for food, especially that of cattle, sheep, lambs, and swine, as distinct from game, poultry, and fish; sometimes it is inclusive of all animal flesh. The edible parts of a carcass include lean flesh, fat flesh, and edible glands or organs, such as the heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, tripe, brains, and sweetbread. Good meat may be recognized by a uniform color; a firm, elastic texture; being barely moist to the touch; and having a scarcely perceptible, clean odor.  Meat is valued as a complete-protein food, containing all the amino acids necessary for the human body. It is digested slowly, largely because of the presence of fats. Worldwide, pork is the most widely consumed meat; beef is second. Mutton and lamb, goat, venison, and rabbit are other common meats.

The term "Meat Inspection" implies the examination of animals before and after being slaughtered. The purpose of the meat inspection is to protection of human health against harm and destruction, control of adulterated meat trade, prevention of spread of infectious diseases. (practical meat inspection). Meat Inspectors identify meat as: Healthy (no disease), Sound (clean, sanitary), Wholesome (not adulterated), Properly Labeled (it is what it says it is). Generally the inspection is targeted for
•   Detection and destruction of diseased meat and/or contaminated meat.
•   Assurance of clean and sanitary handling and preparation
•   Minimization of microbiological contamination of meat.
•   Prevention of adulteration (the addition of harmful substances or products considered improper in certain specified quantities) and the presence of chemical or drug residues.
•   Prevention of false labeling.
•   Application of inspection insignia.

Meat inspection targets that no person shall sell an article of food that has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance; is unfit for human consumption;consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance ;is adulterated; or was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions.  The consciousness of American president Theodor Roosevelt on Chicago meat packers (1904-1906) Led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (June 30, 1906).
Meat inspection is different from grading which segments carcasses and, in turn, meat products from those carcasses, into homogeneous groups based on factors that predict the taste appeal of cooked meat and the quantity (yield) of meat from carcasses. Meat inspection can be divided into ante mortem and post mortem examination:

Ante-mortem examination (screening) is to be performed on all animals within 24 hours of slaughter. If for some reason they have not been slaughtered within that period, they are to be re-examined prior to slaughter.

1.   Identify animals showing clear evidence of being affected with a disease or condition that could render the carcass unfit for human consumption. This also allows you to identify animals affected with disease showing no evidence or post-mortem lesions (e.g. a rabid animal would have characteristic signs on ante-mortem but no lesions on regular post-mortem inspection).
2.   Identify animals which could pose a threat to the health of personnel handling the carcass (e.g. ringworm).
3.   Identify animals which are suspected of being affected with a disease or condition that might render the carcass unfit for human consumption.
4.   Identify animals which are suspected of having been treated with antibiotics or other chemicals.
5.   Alert the inspection staff when diseased animals are found in a herd as the rest of the herd could be affected by the same disease (e.g. respiratory disease in swine).
6.   Identify heavily contaminated animals that could lead to problems during the dressing procedures.
7.   Identify animals requiring special handling for humane reasons (e.g. animals with fractures).


Humane Handling of Animals
No food animal should be handled in a manner that subjects the animal to avoidable distress or avoidable pain. Animals must be protected from inclement weather, heat and frostbite. No goad or electrical prod shall be applied to the anal, genital or facial region of a food animal. An electric prod must use a reduced voltage obtained from a step-down transformer. The use of slappers made of a canvas-like material is to be kept to an absolute minimum. Their use; however, is preferable to canes and sticks in handling livestock. Unnecessary use or abuse of electric prods or any other type of physical abuse of animals submitted for slaughter should not be performed.
Pigs should not be fed within 12 hours prior to the commencement of a journey not longer than six hours.
Prior to the start of any journey, pigs should be placed in a well-ventilated area for at least three hours and loading should not be earlier than one hour before the proposed departure time.

Abnormalities in breathing
Usually this refers to frequency of respiration but there are also other abnormalities such as frequent coughing and difficulty in breathing. The main point for you to remember is that if the breathing pattern differs from normal, the animal should be screened out.

Abnormalities in behaviour
Abnormalities in behaviour can be significant in some very serious diseases such as rabies and lead poisoning. Examples of abnormal behaviour are:
•   an animal pushing its head against the wall;
•   an animal walking in circles;
•   an animal charging at various objects;
•   an animal with an anxious expression in its eyes;
•   an animal with a dull expression in its eyes; and
•   an animal that is acting very aggressively.
Animals that behave in an abnormal way should be segregated at the time of ante-mortem examination. Special attention should be taken so the animal will not be a danger to other animals or to humans.

Abnormalities in gait
When an animal has an abnormal gait or is reluctant to move, it usually indicates that there is pain somewhere. The animal may be suffering from abnormalities anywhere it its legs or may have pain in the chest or abdomen. It may also indicate nervous disorders.

Abnormalities in posture
An animal with abnormal posture:
•   may stand with the abdomen tucked in;
•   may lie with its head turned and along its side;
•   may stand with its feet stretched out in front;
•   may stand with its head and neck extended; and
•   may be unable to rise.
The most frequently observed abnormal posture is of course the "downer". "Downers" are any animals that cannot stand or can only stand for short periods. Such animals must be handled without causing undue suffering and are usually segregated on initial ante-mortem examination. If they cannot be segregated, operations should cease so that they may be dealt with. After veterinary inspection "downers" must be stunned in the yard if moving them causes undue pain and sent directly to the appropriate bleeding area.

Abnormal discharges or protrusions from body openings
The normal animal has no discharges or protrusions from its body openings. Examples of abnormal discharges or protrusions from the body are:
•   discharge from the nose;
•   bloody diarrhea;
•   excessive saliva coming out of the mouth;
•   afterbirth hanging out of the vulva;
•   calf leg protruding from vulva;
•   intestine protruding from rectum;
•   uterus protruding from vulva; and
•   growth protruding from eye.

Abnormal colour
Abnormal colour is generally not as important as the other abnormalities; however, you must be on the lookout for this. Examples are:
•   black areas on the skin of swine;
•   red areas in light coloured skin (inflammation);
•   dark blue areas e.g. gangrenous udder; and
•   yellow coloration of the sclera of the eye or skin (jaundice).

 All animals condemned on ante-mortem inspection shall be identified by a tag or other device showing the word CONDEMNED. In addition, full details (animal identification, owner's name and address, reason for condemnation), should be entered on the ante-mortem examination report.
Following condemnation, animals are to be stunned or killed in the yards or live animal receiving room, and removed to the inedible section of the establishment. Stunned animals may be bled in the yards or live animal receiving room, provided there are adequate facilities to allow sanitary procedures (drain, washing facilities, etc.). Otherwise, such animals must be bled in the inedible section of the establishment.
All found deads are to be recorded and sent for rendering. Condemned animals, carcasses of such animals and found deads are not permitted to pass through the slaughter floor or other edible areas of the establishment.


Head Inspection
It is strongly suggested that the head be inspected before the carcass has been inspected in order to facilitate the operations.The inspection shall not commence until the head is clean, properly prepared, (free of hair, pieces of skin, contamination,palatine tonsils removed, etc.) and presented in a satisfactory manner. The inspector must perform a visual examination of the head, including the eyes and the tongue, to detect any abnormality.The tongue shall be palpated to detect abscesses, actinobacillosis, and other abnormal conditions.
An incision shall be made through the center of the each internal pterygoid and external masseter muscles. Such incision should be made parallel to the mandible and right through the muscle (exposing at least 75 % of the muscle's surface). The incision should expose predominantly the muscle tissue and to minimum extent the connective tissue (3:1 ratio) in order to detect parasitic lesions (e.g. Cysticercus sps).
The medial retropharyngeal, lateral retropharyngeal, parotid and mandibular lymph nodes are to be exposed, examined visually and carefully incised. Two to three incisions/slices right through the nodes is considered sufficient.

 Viscera Inspection
The lungs should be visually inspected and palpated to detect chronic pneumonia, abscesses, tumors, etc. The right and left tracheobronchial, cranial and caudal mediastinal lymph nodes should be incised and examined.The liver shall receive a visual inspection and be thoroughly palpated. The hepatic lymph nodes shall be incised and examined.The exterior and interior of the heart (i.e. the valves and the endocardium) shall be visually inspected.In order to detect parasitic lesions (e.g. Cysticercus sps), the cut surface of the heart musculature of all cattle and calves over the age of six weeks shall be visually inspected by one of the following methods:
•   By making one incision that passes through the interventricular septum from base to apex in order to open the heart and expose both ventricles.
•   By everting the heart and making three shallow incisions in the heart musculature.
Extra incisions of the heart may be performed when deemed necessary by the inspector or the veterinarian (e.g. Animals suspected of being affected with Cysticercus spss).
The mesenteric lymph nodes are to be visually examined. Mesenteric lymph nodes should be incised by the inspector when it is enlarged or when the inspector or veterinarian found suspicious lesions in other lymph nodes during the routine inspection. If incision of the lymph node reveals the presence of a granulomatous lesion, the lesion should be collected and submitted to the laboratory for bovine tuberculosis surveillance.
The spleen shall be visually examined and palpated; it may be incised if a complete examination is found to be necessary. Kidneys may be examined, either in the carcass or separately, for example with the other viscera. In either case they shall be fully exposed by the operator prior to inspection and visually examined by the inspector. The reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum are to be visually inspected. The rumino-reticular junction shall be visually examined to detect any abnormalities that may affect this area of the gastro-intestinal tract such as existing inflammatory conditions, abscesses, presence of protruding foreign bodies as a result of reticular puncture, etc.

Carcass Inspection
The inspection of the carcass is performed after the viscera have been removed and the carcass has been split, but before trimming and washing. The inspection consists of a careful examination of the external surfaces of the carcass, the internal cavity, including a visual inspection of the iliac lymph nodes and of the cut surface of the vertebrae.If the kidneys have been left in the carcass, they shall be visually inspected.

Carcass judgment
Trimming or condemnation may involve:
1.   Any portion of a carcass or a carcass that is abnormal or diseased.
2.   Any portion of a carcass or a carcass affected with a condition that may present a hazard to human health.
3.   Any portion of a carcass or a carcass that may be repulsive to the consumer.
Some examples of judgment after the inspection:
Rabies: total condemnation
Anthrax: total condemnation
Glander: total condemnation
Rinderpest: total condemnation
F.M.D.: febrile condition total condemnation
Foot Rot: total condemnation
Sheep pox: total condemnation
Swine fever: total condemnation
Parasitism: conditional passing
Abscess: conditional passing
Localized infection conditional passing

Localized versus generalized conditions
It is important to differentiate between a localized or a generalized condition in the judgment of an animal carcass. In a localized condition, a lesion is restricted by the animal defense mechanisms to a certain area or organ. Systemic changes associated with a localized condition may also occur. Example: jaundice caused by liver infection or toxaemia following pyometra (abscess in the uterus).
In a generalized condition, the animal's defense mechanisms are unable to stop the spread of the disease process by way of the circulatory or lymphatic systems. The lymph nodes of the carcass should be examined if pathological lesions are generalized. Some of the signs of a generalized disease are:
1.   Generalized inflammation of lymph nodes including the lymph nodes of the head, viscera and/or the lymph nodes of the carcass
2.   Inflammation of joints
3.   Lesions in different organs including liver, spleen kidneys and heart
4.   The presence of multiple abscesses in different portions of the carcass including the spine of ruminants
Generalized lesions usually require more severe judgment than localized lesions.

Acute versus chronic conditions
An acute condition implies that a lesion has developed over a period of some days, whereas a chronic condition implies the development of lesions over a period of some weeks, months or years. A subacute condition refers to a time period between an acute and chronic condition.
The acute stage is manifested by inflammation of different organs or tissues, enlarged haemorrhagic lymph nodes and often by petechial haemorrhage of the mucosal and serous membranes and different organs such as heart, kidney and liver. An acute stage parallels with the generalized disease complex, when an acute infection tends to overcome the animal's immune system and becomes generalized.
Each case showing systemic lesions should be assessed individually taking into account the significance that these lesions have towards major organ systems, especially the liver, kidneys, heart, spleen and lymphatic system as well as the general condition of the carcass.
In a chronic condition, inflammation associated with congestion is replaced by adhesions, necrotic and fibrotic tissue or abscesses. The judgment in the chronic stage is less severe and frequently the removal of affected portions is required without the condemnation of the carcass. However, judgment on the animal or carcass judgment tends to be more complicated in subchronic and sometimes in peracute stages. If generalized necrotic tissue is associated with previous infection, carcass must be condemned.

Important Bacterial Diseases of pig, Postmortem lesions & General regulations for Judgement of Meat.
1.   Pneumonia
Causative agent:Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; pleuropneumonia Haemophilus pleuropneumoniae
Post mortem lesions
Enzootic pneumonia
•   Plum coloured, greyish consolidation in apical, cardiac and diaphragmatic lung lobes directed toward the front and bottom are mainly affected.
•   Enlarged edematous bronchial lymph nodes
•   Purulent pneumonia with abscessation usually seen with secondary infection
•   Pleurisy and pericarditis may be seen with secondary infection.

•   Bloody froth in wind pipe.
•   Generalized consolidation and firmness in the entire lung.
•   Blood tinged fluid in the chest cavity and abdomen.
•   Pus-filled abscesses scattered throughout the lungs.
•   Lesions commonly found in the upper part of lungs and often in diaphragmatic lobe.
•   Whitish clot like adhesions on the lung surface and pleura.

Judgement of Carcass
carcass affected with pleuropneumonia showing healing lesions is approved. The affected parts of the carcass and affected organs are condemned. Pneumonia associated with dry adhesions on the pleura and pericardium and without other lesions may be conditionally approved, pending heat treatment. The carcass must be carefully examined for injection sites. If bacteraemia is suspected, bacteriological examination must be performed. Carcass is condemned if pneumonia is accompanied with fever and septicemia or emaciation. Pulmonary necrosis with secondary toxic changes in the body also requires carcass condemnation.

2. Pleuritis
Causative agent: Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Haemophilus pleuropneumoniae
Postmortem findings
•   Thickening of the pleura and presence of fibrin tags
•   Purulent or fibrinous exudate in the pleural cavity
•   Chronic pleuritis and lung abscessation
Judgement of carcass
Carcass affected with diffuse fibrinous or serofibrinous inflammation of the pleura is condemned. In a case of negative bacteriological and microbial findings, the carcass may be conditionally approved with heat treatment. Purulent or gangrenous pleuritis or acute pleuritis associated with inflammation in other organ systems would also require carcass condemnation. In localized or chronic pleuritis with no systemic changes, the carcass may be approved.

3. Valvular endocarditis
Causative agent:Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Actinomyces pyogenes, Streptococci spp. and Escherichia coli.
Postmortem lesions
1.   Yellow-grey to yellow red valvular lesion.
2.   Embolic lesions in lungs, spleen, kidneys etc.
3.   Inflammation of the heart muscle.
Judgement of carcass
Carcass of an animal affected with endocarditis which had shown fever and loss of condition on antemortem examination and embolic lesions in organs on postmortem examination is condemned. Ulcerative or verrucose endocarditis with no signs of systemic changes may be conditionally approved, pending heat treatment. The affected organs are condemned. Endocarditis showing infiltration of fibrous tissue is approved. The heart is condemned.

4.   Porcine chronic pericarditis
Causative agent: streptococcal infection, viruses, mycoplasma, bacteria, fungi
Postmortem lesion
•   Deposits of fibrin on the pericardium
•   Pericardium adherent to the epicardium (heart surface).
•   Adhesions of pericardium with lungs and/or pleura
•   Purulent inflammation of pericardium.
Judgement of carcass
Carcasses affected with pericarditis should be condemned if the inflammation is acute, diffuse or purulent, and associated with fever and systemic changes in other body systems. The rational for condemnation: the pathogenic bacteria are likely to be present in organs and musculature which would present some risk to consumers. A carcass in good condition without systemic changes can be passed even though the heart showed evidence of chronic infectious pericarditis. The organs and viscera are condemned.

5.   Tuberculosis
Causative agent: Mycobacterium bovis,Mycobacterium avium
Postmortem lesions
•   Miliary lesions in the liver, spleen and other organs
•   Lesions in the tonsils, submaxillary, cervical, bronchial, mediastinal and mesenteric lymph nodes
•   Lesions in the joints and meninges are more common than those in cattle
Judgement of carcass
Carcasses with tuberculosis lesions in the head only are passed, after head condemnation. If the carcass contains lesions, it is condemned.

6.   Porcine Brucellosis
Causative agent: Brucella abortus
Postmortem lesions
•   Abscess in the spleen, liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, joint capsule or tendon sheaths
•   Abscess in the testicles or seminal vesicles of boars
•   Catarrhal metritis in sows.
•   Arthritis and osteomyelitis of lumbar and sacral vertebral bodies.

Judgement of carcass
Carcass affected with brucellosis is condemned. In some areas heat treatment of the carcass may be recommended because of economic reasons. In such cases, the mammary glands, genital organs and related lymph nodes must be condemned.

7.   Porcine salmonellosis
Causative agent: Salmonella typhimurium. Salmonella cholerae suis
Postmortem lesions
•   Discoloration of the skin
•   Enlarged and engorged lymph glands
•   Haemorrhages, petechiae and ecchymosis of the epiglottis, stomach, intestine and bladder
•   Enlarged and pulpy spleen
•   Necrotic enteritis in the ileum and large intestine with S. typhimurium infection.
•   Congestion and hepatization of lungs
•   Marked skin haemorrhage
•   Prominent petechial haemorrhage in the kidneys
•   Chronic enteritis
•   Areas of necrosis in the wall of the caecum and colon
•   Enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes
•   Chronic pneumonia
•   Abdominal dilatation and low grade peritonitis in cases of rectal stricture

Judgement of carcass
Viscera and carcass affected with salmonellosis are condemned. In some areas the heat treatment of the carcass is recommended because of economic reasons.

8.   Swine erysipelas
Causative agent:Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
Postmortem lesions
•   Arthritis
•   Diamond shaped skin lesions
•   Vegetative endocarditis
•   Enlarged and reddened spleen and congestion of the other organs

Judgement of carcass
An animal affected with an acute disease of erysipelas with erythema or diffuse cutaneous erysipelas with erythema is condemned on antemortem inspection because of occupational hazards. Carcass showing skin lesions or arthritis complicated by necrosis or signs of systemic effects is also condemned. A localized skin lesion requires only the removal of skin and the rest of the carcass is approved. Localized endocardial lesions of erysipelas without systemic changes or localized chronic inflammation of joints call for conditional approval of the carcass with heat treatment. The carcass may be totally approved, if results of a bacteriological examination show that generalized disease is not present, antimicrobial substances are not found and there is no health hazard to consumers and food handlers.

9.   Melioidosis
Causative agent: Pseudomonas pseudomallei
Postmortem lesions
•   Multiple abscesses in most organs especially in the regional lymph nodes, spleen and liver.
•   The abscesses contain a thick, caseous greenish yellow or off white turgid pus. There is usually no calcification.
•   Pneumonic changes in the lungs
•   Suppurative polyarthritis, the joint capsules contain fluid and large masses of greenish yellow pus.
•   Meningoencephalitis.

Judgement of carcass
Carcasses suspected to be infected with melioidosis should be isolated and retained, and the affected tissues, preferably an excised unopened lymph node and the spleen with abscesses should be sent to the appropriate laboratory for examination. Diagnosis is made on the basis of isolation, cultural examination and pathogenicity test. If there are no facilities for retention in isolation, the carcass suspected or tentatively diagnosed to have melioidosis should be condemned and properly disposed of. Persons handling the suspect carcass or material should disinfect their hands, forearms, knives and other contaminated equipment. If the laboratory report is negative the carcass has to be treated on the basis of the lesions present and the subsequent diagnosis.

10.   Anthrax
Causative agent:Bacillus anthracis
Postmortem lesions
•   Dark-tarry blood discharge from body orifices
•   Absence of rigor mortis
•   Haemorrhage of the mucous and serous membranes, lymph nodes and subcutaneous tissue
•   Enlarged spleen
•   Severe haemorrhagic enteritis
•   Degeneration of the liver and kidneys
•   Bloating and rapid decomposition of carcass
•   Localized lesions in the intestine of pigs (dysentery)

Judgement of carcass
Condemnation of the carcass and its parts by burning or burial. If disposed by burial, the carcass should be buried at least 6 feet below ground. The site should be surrounded by a foot thick layer of quicklime.

11.   Malignant edema
Causative agent: Clostridium septicum
Postmortem lesion
•   Gangrene of the skin in area of infection site.
•   Foul putrid odour is frequently present.
•   Gelatinous exudate in the subcutaneous and intramuscular connective tissue.
•   Subserosal haemorrhage.
•   Accumulation of sero-sanguineous fluid in body cavities.
•   Muscle tissue is dark-red but has little or no gas.
Judgement of carcass
Carcasses of animals affected with malignant edema are condemned.

12.   Leptospirosis
Causative agent:Leptospira spp
Postmortem lesion
•   Anaemia and jaundice
•   Subserosal and submucosal haemormage
•   Ulcers and haemorrhages in the abomasal mucosa.
•   Rarely pulmonary edema or emphysema
•   Interstitial nephritis
•   Septicaemia.

Judgement of carcass.
Carcass of an animal affected with acute leptospirosis is condemned. A chronic and localized condition may warrant an approval of the carcass

13.   Haemorrhagic septicemia
Causative agent:Pasteurella multocida type B
Postmortem lesions
•   Subcutaneous swellings characterized with yellowish gelatinous fluid especially around the throat region, brisket and perineum.
•   Enlarged haemorrhagic lymph nodes
•   Haemorrhage in the organs
•   Pneumonia
•   Rarely haemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
•   Petechial haemorrhage in the serous membranes.

Judgement of carcass
Carcass of an animal affected with haemorrhagic septicemia is condemned. If the disease is diagnosed on antemortem examination, an animal should not be allowed to enter the abattoir. Dressing of such a carcass would create potential danger for the spread of infection to other carcasses.

14.   Calf diphtheria
Causative agent:Fusobacterium (Sphaerophorus) necrophorum
•   Inflammation and ulceration with large masses of yellow-grey material in the mouth, tongue. pharynx and larynx.
•   Often aspiration pneumonia.

Judgement of carcass
Carcass of an animal affected with local lesions is approved. Generalized diphtheric lesions associated with pneumonia or toxaemia requires the carcass condemnation. The carcass is also condemned if lesions are associated with emaciation.

15.   Actinomycosis (Lumpy Jaw)
Causative agent:Actinomyces bovis
•   Lesions in the mandible (Lumpy jaw) or maxilla
•   Granulomatous lesions in lower part oesophagus or anterior part of the reticulum
•   Local peritonitis
•   Mild abomasitis and enteritis

Judgement of carcass
Carcass of an animal affected with active progressive inflammatory lesions in lymph nodes and lung parenchyma is condemned. Condemned material should be sent to authorized rendering plant. If the disease is slight and confined to lymph nodes, the head and tongue and whole carcass are approved after the condemnation of lymph nodes. If the tongue is diseased and no lymph nodes are involved the head and carcass are approved. The tongue is condemned

The results of meat inspection are the classification into the categories of edible, conditionally edible and condemned, together with the reasons for the clas¬sification. The results are the indicators of health status in the herds in the long term. They also indicate the quality of transport and handling of animals at slaughterhouses. The meat should be inspected carefully for the lesions during antimortem and postmortem inspection and Judgement subsequent to suspected disease is to be carried out.

Article authored by Paudyal Sushil (Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences, Rampur Chitwan, Nepal)
Contact details; e-mail: paudyalsushilktm @, suhilpaudyal @, +9779849129262


FAO, 2000. Manual on Meat Inspection For Developing Countries.
Fischoeder F., A.T peters.1975. Guide to Practical Meat Inspection, Cornell University, USA
Tertius Berg.2007.Meat Inspectors’ Manual Abattoir Hyegiene.National Department of Public Health, South Africa.
William G Wilson.2005. Wilsons’ Practical Meat Inspection, Blackwell publishing, Oxford UK.

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