Meat cutters or butchers prepare and cut standard cuts of meat in processing plants or retail food establishments such as a local butcher or meat shop.
In retail establishments, meat cutters’ duties may vary but involve primarily:
- Prepare meat products (may involve breaking, cutting and trimming) for aesthetics and to encourage purchase by customers.
- Receive, store and rotate meat products to ensure freshness and keep shelves stocked.
- Maintain storage, preparation and sales areas in compliance with approved sanitation program and provincial food safety standards.
- Prepare and package meat items whilst ensuring quality of final product prior to sale to customers.
- Price and display meat products appropriately for aesthetic and sanitation purposes.
- Market partially- and fully- prepared as well as ready-to-cook meat items.
- Maintain sanitation records and keep current with hygienic protocols and standards.
- Serve customers and negotiate with representatives from supply companies in selling and marketing meat products.
- Respond to requested orders from customers to make particular cuts for special needs.
- Keep sales records and maintain inventories.
In processing plants, meat cutters utilize knives and specialized equipment to perform various tasks from slaughtering animals to trimming meats into varying cuts for domestic and international markets. They may specialize in one area with one particular task, or work in several departments with different tasks, working:
- On the kill floor slaughtering animals which involve stunning, skinning, eviscerating (gutting and dismembering) and splitting carcasses
- In the cutting room breaking carcasses into large cuts to ready them for other departments within the plant, or for processing
- In processing areas or plants creating value-added products such as de-boned hams, hamburgers, sausages, or processed meats
- In case-ready operations preparing individually-sized cuts by breaking the large portions of meat and cutting and trimming them down to pre-determined specifications for retail, restaurant, hotel, or institutional establishments.
Skills and Qualifications:
- Physical strength and stamina for lifting and moving heavy pieces of meat and standing for extended periods.
- Good health (a physical exam may be required as part of candidate screening).
- Great hand-and-eye coordination, depth perception and have colour vision.
- Good oral and interpersonal communication skills with ability to be courteous, respectful and mindful of others including co-workers, supervisors and in the retail business, the general public.
- Able to work independently and in a team-based environment.
- Capable of following instructions and enjoys having a clear set of organized methods and rules in which to operate with.
- Enjoys using tools and equipment for work requiring precision and taking responsibility for certain projects.
Work is primarily indoors in a temperature-controlled environment which is maintained to keep meat and carcasses cold and fresh. Temperatures are often between plus four and minus two degrees Celsius. Butchers or meat cutters are on their feet for most of the day and are required to regularly lift items weighing at least 20 kilograms. They often have to follow safety precautions and use safety equipment to reduce risk of injury from repetitive motions and using sharp and potentially dangerous equipment such as knives and saws.
Education and Training:
No formal education is required. Training on-the-job takes around one to two years depending on the trainee’s related education and previous experience. Most employers or companies prefer candidates with high school diplomas or related post-graduate education.
Salary and Wages:
Overall average wage: $17.33 per hour
Overall average salary (Alberta): $35,469.00 per annum