My responsibilities at the meat lab were learning how to assist the full time workers with anything from making different processed meats in the processing room to helping with the harvest of animals to cutting up the sides of meat in the cutting room. Along with this another responsibility of this internship is cleaning after whatever we do that day. This is the less glamorous part of the job but it quickly teaches you the standards of what clean means to the USDA and how to effectively clean and sanitize.
My greatest accomplishment was that I learned how to break down a whole side of pig into the retail cuts. This was something that I was very interested in coming into this internship and I was glad that I could learn how the meat goes from a carcass to the food that we buy at the store. It makes you appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating those cuts of meat and how quickly the professionals can do it.
Cleaning is very important at this job. You should try to clean equipment properly the first time, doing a bad job cleaning and having to re clean it the next day both wastes time and puts the lab at risk. If everything is not cleaned properly it can mess up the planned processing for the day if the USDA inspector finds any excess meat or harmful microorganisms on improperly cleaned equipment.
What advice would you give?
If you think that you would like to learn more about making processed meat, or if you just want to experience more of the behind the scenes of how animals go from the holding pens to the sales counter, this summer internship would be great for you! There are also jobs available during the school year if this interests you but you can't wait until the summer.