Abattoir operatives work alongside health and hygiene, and quality control inspectors. A government-approved vet also works on-site to make sure the animals do not suffer and that the meat is fit for human consumption.
High standards of hygiene and cleanliness are essential in abattoirs. Operatives must follow strict procedures when storing the carcasses, handling the meat and disposing of waste products. They work quickly, as it is more hygienic. Strict health and safety rules must also be followed to avoid accidents caused by machinery or equipment.
Abattoirs usually specialise in slaughtering sheep, cattle, pigs or poultry. Daily responsibilities vary depending on the type of abattoir, but may include:
- Unloading, moving and controlling the animals when they are first brought to the abattoir.
- Stunning the animals using electrical equipment or a mechanical device called a captive bolt stunner.
- Humanely killing the animals, quickly, cleanly and painlessly while they are unconscious.
- Moving the carcasses around the meat areas, without damaging the meat, and putting them on to a production line.
- Washing and checking the carcasses for any signs of disease.
- Removing some of the inedible parts of the carcass, such as the hooves.
- Removing the skins of sheep and cattle, without damaging them.
- Removing internal organs immediately after slaughter, and separating edible organs, such as livers, from the waste.
- Using tools such as knives and saws to break up, split and de-bone carcasses.
- Overseeing automated pig-processing equipment.
- Working on an assembly line, especially in a poultry slaughter and processing site.
- Cleaning floors, tools and equipment to high standards.
- Packing the meat into cartons and processing by-products.
- Loading the meat and meat products on to refrigerated lorries to be taken to retail outlets.