Working in a meat factory. What really goes on behind your M&S Steaks compared to your ASDA Steaks?

This may come across as quite controversial However not many people know i started work in a Food Factory (I will remain anonymous to the name of it). First of all we all have a feeling that we know what goes on behind the scenes at a food factory. However i would love to go through all the facts and in’s & outs of what really does.


Copyright – thegreatwideopendotnet[/caption] So here we go… I just turned 16 when i applied for a job (in between college & school), The job was not far from where i lived (great for a 16 year old). So i “Clocked in” at 6am not too sure what to expect. Sure enough there was a struggle to get a coat and white boots. By now i felt like a scientist. After getting “Suited Up” (Tech term). It was time to get my gloves on (You know the blue latex style).So lets get thing started right? WRONG! Now what to do today? There is always a scramble to get the “Best” jobs first. So what are the best jobs? Depending on what you like really, if you fancied standing for 12 hours straight packing then go and get ready on the assembly line. If you wanted to work in dispatch then head straight out the back. Turn on the machines, make sure a delivery lorry is near and get ready to work your ass off! Lifting for 12 hours (With a 30 min break 2 times a day then an hour for lunch). So lets start off on the assembly line…There are four opportunities you have here

  • If you are there early you can be the “Butcher” where you cut the excess fat trimmings off then send a mass amount of food down the line for people to pack. Be prepared though, although it sounds easy i can tell you it is not. You have around 2 minutes to empty a crate of food, trim and send down the line before the next lot of food comes.
  • You can become a “Packer” Yes that was a technical term. Here you get to stand around for 12 hours remembering the meat angles (Yes you have to remember that Asda packed meat was in a 66 position then M&S was 69 position – You can see which one had more fun). Don’t worry though as there was never any “Real” food fights whilst working. Plus any meat that was dropped on the floor HAD to be discarded. However there were some people that did not share the same rules as others and believed they knew best. PS Please note: Anyone found to be picking up food off the floor by any boss would be fired imedietly. However a few times you did see it happen. #JustSaying. I worked in this factory for around 18/24 months
  • Then there is the Machine Operative… Yes someone at the end of the production line takes the trays with the fresh meat then “Carefully” places the tray in the machine (3X3 per 2 seconds). The food then gets the label printed and the nice people in dispatch place them in crates.
  • Next role is to wrap the crates in clingfilm after they have been stacked (Depending on the retailer to how many crates were packed for their lorries). Then the last step is to send off the wrapped crates on a manual forklift to the back of a lorry (Yes it sounds funny but true Your meat came off the back of a lorry 😀 ).

So there you have it 1 hours of manual food packing from a POV. Next lets talk about the other roles that are available downstairs Pre Butchering.. What is that? Let me tell you. Pre butcher was the people that do all the hard work BEFORE the assembly line get the food. This can be divided into THREE departments.

  • “Skinner’s” Quite literally what it means. Here the operatives will remove the excess off the lamb cutlets where the excess marrow/tissue has been left on from the abattoir. This is an exclusive area as there are only a few chosen people who work in this department. Here the people who pack the meat for the retailers have their own dispatch area, their own knives etc (The people who work here normally think they are a “cut” above the rest 😉 ). They know how the retailers want their foods packed and once again 66 or 69 cutlets are packed and shipped.
  • “Mincers” Quite a name for someone who puts the unused cuts of meat in a MASSIVE tin with wheels then places inside a cage and presses a button that makes the machine lift and drop the excess foods into a mince processing machine. Just like the one at home just around 8 foot tall with VERY thin but sharp blades. The people working here are really running around looking for cut ends of meat that are no longer needed. Just like Oliver Twist.
  • Label Personnel – Yes these people make sure the labels are correctly placed on the packets of meat. I cannot really tell you more about the Label Personnel  as their role is simply to replace the labels when needed by going into a store room and pick some more…

Cleaners… I will make another post about the cleaners (as i once was one as well). Thanks for reading Kris Richens

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