Agriculture Quality Control & Food Inspector Jobs
A very important part of the agricultural industry is quality control, which ensures that the food produced for consumers is safe. Quality control ensures a number of things, including the following:
- The "cold chain" is not broken during transportation of items that need to remain refrigerated or frozen.
- Workers at plants are wearing hairnets, washing their hands, and taking other measures to prevent food contamination.
- Machinery and facilities are cleaned and sterilized properly.
- Work is done safely and accidents are reported as soon as they occur.
- Animals are treated humanly according to animal rights laws.
- Food is packaged and shipped in a way that will prevent spoiling.
- Products are cleaned properly, ensuring that non-food materials are removed.
- Facilities are training their employees correctly.
- Pests are controlled at facilities.
- Inspection of animals before slaughter and of carcasses afterward to check for disease and parasites.
Most food processing plants are required to have inspectors on-site whenever the facility is operating. In addition, annual inspectors visit each facilities to look for violations, and if the facilities do not pass, they could lose their authorization to process food.
Third parties or the government hires inspectors, depending on the specific part of the agricultural industry, and in order to work in this job, you must have training in this field. In addition, most inspectors have to undergo a certain number of hours of training annually to continue working in an inspection position. In order to be an inspector, you need to memorize an often complicated set of rules and ensure that these regulations are being upheld every day.
Larger companies also hire their own inspectors or quality control workers as well. These workers hold the facility to a hire standard than required by law in most cases to ensure that the food products are not only safe, but also of a high quality. They can also report infractions of industry regulations before inspectors report them so that facility workers can fix the problems quickly without facing fines. Quality control employees usually start in lower level positions in the company so they can learn about their employer's expectations. Related - seafood inspector jobs are discussed in our Aquaculture section.
Food safety workers may also have medical training. Some companies keep nurses or other medical personnel on-site to deal with employee injuries or insurance claims. Quality control workers with medical training can also help contain food born illness outbreaks when they occur, as well as consult with administrators on how to lessen the chances of these outbreaks happening.
Working in the food safety and quality control branch of agricultural extends to government positions as well. The FDA and USDA hire a number of workers every year, from low-level secretaries to high-level administrators. This is a great way to make a difference in the agricultural industry in terms of making food safer and healthier for consumers.
While positions in quality control typical require a degree, the payoff is that you can expect much higher pay rates than if you're a general laborer at a food processing plant. In fact, government positions in food quality are among some of the highest-paying positions in this industry.