What’s it all about then?
As a Meat Hygiene Inspector, you’ll work in a slaughterhouse or meat processing plant and ensure that all meat is being produced safely and in accordance with relevant laws.
You’ll check that live animals and poultry are all healthy and inspect carcasses to make sure that no nasty diseases are present.
You’ll also guarantee that the highest animal welfare standards are maintained and that they are cared for properly and transported safely.
Any actions that you recommend must be implemented immediately.
What might I be doing?
Your tasks will likely vary from day to day but will include the following:
- Inspecting live animals and verifying that they have proper identification and are free of any diseases
- Ensuring high levels of hygiene and safety in slaughterhouses, processing plants and cold stores
- Checking animal welfare conditions
- Ensuring all processes are humane
- Making recommendations for improvement
- Recording and collecting data and writing reports
- Helping with post mortem inspections of carcasses
- Supervising the disposal of unfit meat
- Keeping up to date with regulations and advising companies of changes
- Liaising with a variety of different people
- Verifying the safe handling and disposal of animal by-products
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be expected to be able to deal with all sorts of different people, from animal breeders, staff in slaughterhouses and factories, other inspectors, butchers and retailers; this means someone who is an effective and confident communicator, able to build good working relationships and sort out issues as they arise.
You’ll need to be able to write up detailed reports and understand legislative issues so that you can make effective decisions when required.
Difficult situations will arise occasionally as part of the job and you’ll need to be the sort of person with the necessary diplomatic and communication skills to sort these out.
And you’ll need to have a comprehensive knowledge of the meat processing sector.
What can I expect?
You can expect to work between 37 and 40 hours per week from Monday to Friday but this can vary, and overtime might be required to meet a deadline; also, you may have to work outside normal working hours if you’re visiting a slaughterhouse or processor.
You can expect to spend some time travelling around from one inspection to the next so a driving license and access to transport is useful; conversely, if you’re inspecting a production line you might expect to be standing in one place for a while.
You’ll have to be physically fit to be able to move and lift heavy meat carcasses; and sometimes the working conditions might be hot or cold, and you’ll be expected to wear protective clothing such as boots, hats and overalls.
This is not a job for anyone who doesn’t like strong smells and a noisy environment!
What about the pay?
A trainee inspector can earn more than £17,000 per year and this will rise to anywhere between £20,000 and £27,000 as you gain experience.
Senior Inspectors can earn up to £30,000 a year.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
To become a Meat Hygiene Inspector, you’ll need to have the Level 2 Certificate for Proficiency in Poultry Meat Inspection and the Level 4 Diploma for Proficiency in Meat Inspection awarded by The Royal Society for Public Health.
The entry requirements for these are GCSEs in English, Maths and Science, as well as experience working in the industry.
Alternatively, you could achieve these requirements via the Apprenticeship route, which will provide you with the necessary practical and technical skills you’ll need, as well as relevant qualifications.
Where would I get these qualifications?
For apprenticeships and further education courses you should contact your local careers advisor or college in the first instance and see what’s available that suits your aspirations.
Many meat companies employ Apprentices, and this is a really great way to gain experience as well as industry recognised qualifications.
What about further training?
Once you’ve got the job of Meat Hygiene Inspector, you’ll very likely be expected to do in-house or short training courses to keep up to date with changes in the law, regulations and procedures.
There are also lots of different courses that you could consider, which will enhance your career prospects; these are delivered through the Royal Society for Public Health amongst others.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, don’t forget you will need to have some experience in the industry before you can consider becoming a Meat Hygiene Inspector; luckily, red meat companies are always on the lookout for keen young people prepared to work hard to develop their career.
This is a very important role, as you’ll be responsible for the safety of the public who purchase meat products.
As you become more experienced and gain further qualifications, you could progress to become a supervisor or manager in the Agri-food sector or perhaps work for a body such as the Food Standards Agency.