From the Editor

Does oil contain fat?

The label on the can of no-stick cooking spray says "Fat Free." The main ingredient in the spray is canola oil. That is the conundrum! If oil is fat, then how is it possible that the cooking spray is fat free? What do you believe? Does this information change the way you will use no-stick cooking spray?

This reminds me of the flurry of discussion that began in response to the article on a tonsil biopsy technique published in the September issue of the Journal of Swine Health and Production. The first concern was that the tonsil biopsies were done with a topical anesthetic (2% lidocaine HCl) rather than a general anesthetic. Was this humane treatment of the pigs? I believe that we as veterinarians must determine what we consider ethical and humane and then conduct ourselves accordingly. Societies differ in their understanding and acceptance of various practices. However, our ideas evolve when we are challenged. Let each of us take up this challenge. Stop and evaluate your own practices. Determine whether there is a more humane way to approach each technique you routinely conduct.

The second point that was discussed about this issue was that the Editor and the Editorial Board must veto the publication of questionable practices. The assumption was that the Editor and the Board accept all practices and, by extension, all scientific information published in the journal. In previous editorial messages, I have described the review process. It is based on four subjective evaluations of each manuscript submitted to the journal. Perhaps the process is faulty, but certainly it follows standard protocol for rigorous scientific review. Inside the front cover of each journal, this statement appears: "Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the endorsement, official attitude, or position of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the Journal of Swine Health and Production, or any Industry Support Council member." Personally, when I perform tonsil biopsies, I use a pre-anesthetic with an analgesic. The pig does not struggle, and I gain a clear, unobstructed view of the tonsil and have a high success rate in obtaining tonsillar tissue. The pre-anesthetic I use is a mixture of ketamine (10 mg/kg), xylazine (2 mg/kg), and butorphanol (0.2 mg/kg). The pharmacy at the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada)) prepares this pre-anesthetic by mixing 30 mL ketamine (100 mg/mL), 6 mL xylazine (100 mg/mL), and 6 mL butorphanol (10 mg/mL) in 18 mL sterile saline. The dose of that compounded mixture is 0.2 mL/kg or 1 mL/10 pounds live weight. That is what is ethically acceptable to me as a veterinarian. However, this product is NOT licensed for use in swine in Canada or the United States. Producers and veterinarians must be cognizant of using an appropriate withdrawal time with compounded products.

The next time I plan to do a procedure on a pig, I will consider whether there is a more humane way to do the procedure. If this includes added expense, those costs must be reimbursed by the producer. If the withdrawal time is extended, that must be carefully explained to the producer. However, for me, neither cost nor withdrawal time may interfere with the ethical decision about welfare. As for the no-stick cooking spray, I knowingly put fat on the inside of the pan before I cook.

-- Cate Dewey