Name: Stuart Cant
Job title: Meat hygiene inspector
Company & location: Food Standards Scotland (FSS), primarily working at Scotbeef Inverurie
Education: Biological Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to work as a blacksmith from the age of five, until I was old enough to learn that they make a lot more horseshoes than swords these days!
Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? I’ve always had jobs that combined physical exertion with a bit of a mental workout as well. It didn’t take long into my training for me to see meat hygiene inspection has an excellent balance of both.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): Ensuring food businesses are operating in a way that keeps the public safe, and keeping a watchful eye out for symptoms of serious diseases in the carcases through checks on the live animal, carcase, offal, and the abattoir’s equipment, practices and procedures.
Meat hygiene inspectors ensure the high safety and animal welfare standards in Scotland’s meat industry are not compromised, and that consumers’ interests are protected.
“FSS has a fantastic management culture that really emphasises training”
What does a typical day look like for you? I am in my whites and on the cattle line for seven o’clock. Rotating duties half-hourly with other members of the team covering offal and carcase inspections and more general checks such as carcase temperatures, waste products, general cleanliness etc.
My working day usually finishes in the early afternoon, but this varies with the throughput of the plant on a given day.
Tell us how you went about applying for your job: I saw the job advertised on work-for-scotland.org, and had to apply by answering questions about my suitability for the role and giving examples that demonstrated my previous work experience.
After succeeding in that stage of the application, I had a video interview with three managers that lasted about an hour.
What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? FSS has a fantastic management culture that really emphasises training – I’ve been given a huge amount of opportunities for genuine professional development.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? Probably that I must hate my job because it’s in an abattoir.
I won’t pretend that the idea of working in an abattoir didn’t give me a little bit of a pause, but seeing the whole process of a modern abattoir being so hi-tech, clean and efficient, as well as how humane the process is for the animal, left me feeling totally comfortable working in that environment.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Always ask about what training and development opportunities are available. A pathway to becoming more skilled can help make a job with a lower starting salary more attractive.
What’s your ultimate career dream? I’m in the middle of a management training course so I’d love to see where that leads me.