Food Processing Occupations

If you want to transit from school to work in a semi-skilled but rapidly changing labor market then careers in food processing occupations offers plethora of opportunities. There is favorable employment growth as cutting and processing meat shift from retail stores to food-processing plants primarily in manufacturing.

Food processing occupations include many different types of workers who process raw food products into the finished goods sold by grocers or wholesalers, restaurants, or institutional food services. These workers perform a variety of tasks and are responsible for producing many of the food products found in every household.

The following are examples of types of food processing occupations:
  • Meat carvers have special skills that enhance the final presentation of meats.
  • Poultry eviscerators clean birds so that they can be made into various products.
  • Fish filleters use sharp knives and precise movements to separate fillets of fish from the bones.
  • Oyster shuckers and shrimp pickers separate the flesh of oysters and shrimp from the shells or exoskeleton for packaging and wholesale or retail sale.
  • Meat roasters, dryers, and fish smokers operate large commercial roasters, dryers, or smokers to prepare fish and other meats for packaging and sale in wholesale or retail outlets.
  • Commercial bakers and tortilla makers operate large mixing and baking machines to produce large quantities of baked goods, such as bread or tortillas.
  • Coffee roasters follow or create recipes to produce standard or specialty coffees.
  • Tobacco roasters cure tobacco for wholesale distribution to cigarette manufacturers and other makers of tobacco products.
  • Dryers of fruits and vegetables operate machines that produce raisins or other dehydrated foods.

Role of Food Processing Occupations

  • Cut steaks and chops and shape and tie roasts
  • Perform a cut in the production of a meat, poultry, or fish product
  • Clean, trim, and cut carcasses to prepare them for further processing
  • Control the temperature, humidity, and pressure of machinery using thermostats and valves
  • Ensure that gauges and sensors work properly by touching, seeing, and smelling the products they measure

Skills of Food Processing Occupations

Alertness: Workers in food processing occupations must be able to pay close attention to what they are doing so that they avoid injury and waste of product.
Hand-eye Coordination: Hand–eye coordination is needed to prepare products safely and in a timely manner.
Customer-service skills: Those who work in retail stores should be able to identify and meet the needs of customers while making them feel comfortable and happy about their purchases.
Listening skills: Workers must pay close attention to directions so they avoid costly mistakes.
Stamina: Workers in this occupation must be physically active for long periods.
Teamwork: Food processing occupations usually require high levels of teamwork, and workers are often closely supported by managerial staff.

Work Schedule

Operators of roasting, baking, and drying machinery may be exposed to high temperatures for long periods. Also, the environment may be loud. Heavy lifting is likely. All of these occupations typically require the use of dangerous tools and machinery, such as knives, saws, and ovens. Workers may have to wear protective safety equipment or sanitary garments to prevent food from becoming contaminated.
Most workers in food processing occupations work full time.

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