8 Facts About Butchers

Butchery is one of the oldest professions in the world of food and beverage. This profession dates back all the way to the domestication of livestock, when butchers formed guilds in England as far back as 1272!

This week FoodGrads is investigating the exciting careers of butchers more specifically the jobs of retail butchers- similar but not quite the same as industrial butchers. Keep reading to know the facts about this cool profession!

1.  Butchers prepare and sell meat and meat products

Butchers are individuals responsible for:

Preparing meat into forms ready for cooking using a variety of actions, including boning, tying, grinding, cutting and trimming to make it easier for customers. They arrange the cuts of meat in the displace cases in an attractive manner.

Furthermore, butchers perform customer service duties by weighing, labeling and pricing a variety of cuts of meats for customers to ensure that customers are satisfied. In addition, they educate customers on different selections of meat.

Finally, they maintain and clean their work stations in order to reduce the risk of food contamination and adhere to food safety guidelines.

Fresh Meat  

2. Butchers don’t need formal training

There is no certified degree when it comes to being a butcher. Therefore it is a career you can enter straight out of high school. Many times butchers begin their jobs as apprentices working many hours to learning the various cuts of meat. It isn’t until after a year of two that a butcher is consider to be “fully trained.”

Check out our interview with two butchers!

3. Butchers understand meat

Although it might sound like a given, butchers truly understand meat. Butchers not only understand how to cut meat but what cuts should be used in a dish. Some trained butchers even learn how to make sausages, cure meat and roll roasts. If you want to test this knowledge out for yourselves.

Check out your local butcher shop and ask your your butcher a few questions. I am sure that you will learn a few things.

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4. Butchers have physically demanding jobs

Butchers have physically demanding jobs for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they are required to stand for long periods of time and repeat the same movements over and over.

Secondly, butchers have to bend and stoop to grasp objects something that can be difficult in cold environments. Finally, when butchers receive products from a delivery truck they need to the physical capabilities to actually move it in to the shop.

5. Butchers work in cold environments

General working conditions for butchers are usually cold in order to keep meat products fresh. Butchers keep up with the cold by wearing layers and taking breaks in warmer areas of the plant. Both of these things are very important because fatigue happens faster in cold environments.

6. Butchers work clean

It is very important that butcher clean their tools and work surfaces as they clean. In an order to prevent cross-contamination, a clean butcher shop will store cooked meats separately from. Clean butchers shops will package meat in airtight containers and will always work under cold conditions. If butchers do not keep things clean this could mean very sick customers!

7. Butchers tend to have customer service skills

Many butchers work in the retail setting so this means that they have to be comfortable working with customers.  It is at this point they are responsible for weighing, wrapping and pricing meat for customers.

They need to understand what a customer wants to ensure they keep coming back for more. Additionally, butchers provide advice on the nutritional value of foods as well as the best storage and cooking methods.

Image result for butcher counter

8. Butchers have these set of skills
  • Manual dexterity- As mentioned before butchers work in cold environments which can get very uncomfortable causing their hands to become numb. These professionals need to have the dexterity to work in both warm and cold conditions and perform the correct cuts of meat every time.,
  • Attention to detail- Although you need a degree of attention for detail for all the jobs you perform this is especially important for butchers. By properly breaking down a cow you could mean ruining a good piece of work if you do not cut it properly. Furthermore, in a butcher shop if you take your eyes away from your table this can mean losing your hand.
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time-  The majority of a butchers job takes place on their feet. Butchers need to be comfortable with bending, twisting, turning and other associated actions. They clean, cut and prepare cuts of meat.  As well, transferring large portions of meat from the delivery truck to the cutting counter. As you can imagine this is all very physical!

Photo Credit

Butcher Shop: By Ad Meskens [Attribution, GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Butcher Shop Counter by: Bex Walton