The food processing industry has a variety of jobs for people in different sectors of food processing. Food processers can either work with raw materials or work in large factories to produce finished ready to eat goods. Food processors can work in various sectors such as meat procesing, agriculture, or operate processing equipment.
Food processing positions are often entry level positions requiring little to no formal education to begin work. Food processing workers must have knowledge of all safety and food regulations set forth by the FDA and other government organizations as well as those set forth by the standard of quality of their respective employer.
Food processing workers either work in large manufacturing companies, or in processing plants adjacent to farms. Food processors employed in the meat packing industry work in slaughter houses. Often times food processing employees are required to operate heavy machinery which may pose a potentially dangerous risk.
Earning vary by location, industry and specialization. On average, food processing employees make anywhere between $22,000 and $25,000 annually with possible added benefits depending on employer. Food processing employees, such as meat packaging employees, may belong to a labor union of some sort who can negotiate better working conditions as well as higher rates of pay and other benefits.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Employees who show management or supervisor potential or who have extensive experience may be selected for promotion to managerial or supervisor positions. These positions in general will garner larger wages. They have a less direct impact with the food processing but rather instead take an administrative overview approach.
Job Description and Outlook
Food processing employees partake in a variety of responsibilities relating to the food industry. This may include working with raw products such as agricultual crops or slaughter animals, or working in large factories to produce ready to consume snacks and other foods. Food processing employees can be general manufactureres or specialize in a specific sector of food processing such as slaughter, baking, or other type of manufacturing.
Bakers in the food processing industry manufacture snack cakes, cookies and other baked goods for mass food production. Bakers produce baked goods such as sliced bread in large quantities for logistical shipping to grocery stores and other retail outlet stores across the country. Bakers must be experienced in baking, especially for large quantities and must be familiar with stabilizing ingredients to help keep bread fresh longer.
Food processors in meat packing can be involved in anything from raising animals for slaughter, to working in the actual slaughter house preparing meat for packaging. Meat packers work in large factories, often with potentialy dangerous equipment such as band saws. Due to the fact that meat packaging employees work directly with raw meat materials, they must have the highest degree of sanitation.
Within the the food processing industry, employees may be specially tasked to certain assignments. These include food batchmakers who prepare bulk mixes, cooking machine operators who may operate deep fryers, large industrial ovens or other machines, and package machine operators who oversee the bagging and packaging of the final product prior to outbound shipping.
Food processing employees are subject to follow all food handling guidelines set forth by the food and drug administration as well as those of the employer. Food processing employees must be well groomed and have good sanitation habits. Employees must be either clean shaven, or wear protective materials such as hair nets and other tools.
Food processing employees often work with potentially dangerous machinery such as band saws, deep fryers, open flames or ovens. These machines have the potential to cause seriuos industry or burns. Employees must be specially trained to operate these machines to prevent injury or harm.
Demand for food processing workers will increase as the general population and need for food production also increases. Food production in general is expected to grow over the next ten years.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
No formal education or training is required. Upon sucessful hire, the employee normally places the new hire on a regimented training program to allow the new hire to become acquainted with the company operations. However, individual careers and specialized positions in the industry may require some previous training. For example, bakers often are required to have previous knowledge in baking, icing and decorating which is usually aquired during an apprenticeship or other work study program.
No formal certifications are required, however bakers n the food processing industry may seek certification through the Retail Bakers of America. In addition, individual employers may require prospective employees to take certification courses overviewing safety regulations as well as company processes.
There are a number of professional associations for members of the Food procssing industry. There are a number of associations related to specific processs or jobs within the food processing industry. These include professional labor unions for meat packers, factory workers as well as associations such as the Retail Bakers of America.
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