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The Work of a Butcher

The work of a Butcher can be divided into two main areas—retail and wholesale. The Retail Butcher cuts up and prepares animal carcasses for retail sales. The range of duties includes preparing cuts of meat to order, handling cash and serving at the counter. The Retail Butcher may also make sausages and burgers and must have a thorough knowledge about cuts of meat in order to advise customers. The Wholesale Butcher bones, cuts and packs meat for sale to Retail Butchers, Catering Butchers, restaurants and hotels as well as to overseas customers. Meat is cut from a carcass into various quantities and sizes and then carefully stored in boxes and refrigerated until sold. The Butcher is responsible for cleaning tools and working areas at the end of the day.

In the interest of Occupational Hygiene, Butchers are obliged to wear a white coat and apron. During sustained periods of boning & cutting trainees are also obliged to wear a protective mesh steel apron and glove. Qualified Butchers are not obliged to wear the mesh steel apron and glove; however, these items must be available. The present working hours in Butcher’s Shops are 39 per week, with flexibility between 8am and 6pm.

Educational and Other Requirements

A good general education is necessary. Butchers in the retail trade are usually apprenticed for four years. Training is on-the-job. Further training appropriate to the relevant sector of the industry, in management, meat technology, or small business ownership, may follow an apprenticeship.

Butchers need to be physically fit in order to cope with standing for long hours and heavy lifting. A steady hand and common sense are needed for handling cutting equipment. An above average attitude to hygiene is vital as it is in all the food industries, plus good communication skills and a real interest in people and their eating habits in order that the meat products may be geared to the customers’ needs.

How to become a Butcher

The career path to becoming a qualified Butcher is as follows. Initially you would be required to serve an apprenticeship of four years duration with an established Butcher. In conjunction with this period of apprenticeship you can attend the DIT, Mountjoy Square where you can study for the Dublin Master Victuallers Association Diploma. Upon successful completion of both, you are then qualified to be employed in any traditional meat retail outlet or supermarket. The Regional Technical College, Galway, in conjunction with FÁS, also runs a one-year full-time course in Retail Butchery.

Where to go for further information

Dublin Master Victuallers Association/
Irish Master Butchers Federation,
47 Mountjoy Street,
Dublin 7.
Tel: (01) 4024143

The Dublin Institute of Technology,
Mountjoy Square,
Dublin 1.
Tel: (01) 4023000