Food Processing Professions Video: Meat Cutting and Meat Packing Career Info

Food Processing Professions Video: Meat Cutting and Meat Packing Career Info Transcript

Most food products that Americans buy in supermarkets, from meat and poultry to cookies and snack foods, have been processed elsewhere. Food processing professionals are responsible for turning raw food products into the items we expect to find on store shelves. Among these skilled workers are butchers, bakers and professionals of the agricultural industry. Vital toward the sustenance and health of the population, food processing professionals are in high demand.


The vast number of food items available in supermarkets across the United States is in large part possible because of the efforts of food processing workers. These professionals work in a variety of settings, from corporate bakeries and specialty kitchens to animal slaughterhouses and crop processing plants. Regardless of the setting, their objective is to turn raw food products into goods that can be sold by grocery stores, big box retailers, restaurants and other food service operations. Among these important positions are butchers, meat packers, bakers and processing equipment operators. Entrusted to provide sustenance for millions while following food safety procedures vital toward public health, these professionals play an important role in the life of our nation.

Job Skills and Duties

The capacities in which food processing professionals work can vary significantly by location. Those producing baked items, for example, may work in industrial kitchens where goods are produced in large quantities. Others with similar skills may work in the decidedly smaller environment of a supermarket bakery. The same diversity of work environments holds true for butchers and other food processing professionals. A common denominator among these places, however, is the importance of food safety during production. Producing safe food items of high quality requires attention to detail, from bakers responsible for mixing and baking ingredients to slaughterhouse employees processing animal food sources. Procedures in place for food safety also help to ensure the welfare of workers in processing plants. Given their proximity to sharp cutting instruments and industrial machinery, it's important for plant workers to fully realize the danger of accidents and understand the safety procedures that can prevent them.

Training Required

In the past, professionals working in the food processing industry were largely trained on the job. Increasingly, however, companies are seeking candidates who have post-secondary training in food processing. To meet this educational need, colleges and technical schools are increasingly offering food processing technician programs. Most of these opportunities allow students to earn an associate degree. Coursework in programs generally includes classes on topics such as nutrition, biology and chemistry as well as applied skills like food preparation methods, processing equipment and safety procedures. Depending upon an individual's career goals, courses in specialized topics such as vegetable processing, baking methods or dairy manufacturing can also be taken. Many programs incorporate work experience to prepare students for the environments in which they will ultimately be employed. Once on the job, it's very likely that professionals in the industry will undergo additional training to learn how to use and care for the equipment of a given facility.

Well Known Jobs Within this Field of Expertise

There is a wide range of careers available to food processing professionals. Bakers prepare breads, cakes, pastries, and other goods, often in the setting of a supermarket or industrial kitchen. Positions for meat processors also vary, from butchers working on site at grocers to slaughterhouse employees. Meat processors and meat packers slaughter pigs, cows, sheep and other animal food sources into cuts and portions that are suitable for distribution and sale at markets. Other professionals in the field, called poultry and fish cutters and trimmers, perform more or less the same functions with poultry and fish food sources. Supervisory positions are available to those with experience within an individual's respective industry.


Food processing professionals play a vital role in the sustenance and health of our nation. For this reason, the job outlook for these careers is quite positive. Close attention to detail and observance of safety protocols are both crucially important in these positions. Manual dexterity and physical strength, especially in meat processing careers, can also be of great benefit.


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