Food processing workers are involved in the production of a wide variety of food products including frozen, canned, baked, dried and pasteurised foods. Most food is made in large factories and is processed by machine. Jobs in the industry usually involve checking and controlling equipment rather than handling food or ingredients.
Most food processing workers are part of a fast moving production line. As the food passes along conveyor belts, through stages such as mixing, cooking and packing, workers make sure that the supplies are constant, adjusting the speed of the conveyor belt if necessary. They check instruments such as temperature gauges at regular intervals, and make sure that machines are kept clean at all times.
If any problems occur, they may have to stop the machine and report the fault to the supervisor/engineer.
Food processing workers work 37 to 40 hours a week over five days. Some factories operate a shift system involving evening, night and weekend work, and overtime is often available.
Most work takes place standing at a production line in a factory, with some lifting and bending involved. The temperature varies widely depending on the type of food being processed. High standards of hygiene must be observed, and workers must wear a hat or hairnet and clean protective clothing.
To be a food processing worker you should:
The food production industry in the United Kingdom is vast, so opportunities for advancement are good. Many companies promote from within, to supervisory and management levels.
Food production companies are found in all areas of the country. They often specialise in one area of production such as baking, freezing or brewing. In some cases, for example in the canning and freezing of soft fruit and vegetables, process work is seasonal.