Master Plan

Meat training bosses are hoping to bring back the concept of 'Master Butchers' with the launch of a new scheme.

The term Master Butcher was an ancient title, which applied to a person who ran a butchery business, selected animals and converted them to meat and meat products for sale to the public. A lack of any real recognition of the skills that made up the role of Master Butcher and any official way of bestowing the title meant that, over the years, the term had become devalued, said the Meat Training Council (MTC).

Bill Jermey, chief executive of the MTC, said: "We recognise there are a lot of good people in the trade who have nothing to differentiate themselves from everybody else. We think the trade deserves a formal qualification for Master Butcher. We also want to have a qualification in place for young people in the business to aspire to, beyond the current NVQ system."

MTC has now created a framework to accredit those with the skills and abilities to be able to officially declare themselves Master Butchers. The scheme will be moderated by a team, led by chief moderator Fred Mallion.

Jermey said prospective candidates for the title would be assessed in 14 different areas, including selecting animals for slaughter and understanding the slaughtering process, as well as managing other butchers. "We're looking for people to cover the traditional areas," he said. "But we recognise that detailed practical skills in all these areas is not necessary these days."

While the emphasis might be off the more traditional skills, topics such as food safety will be firmly in the spotlight and potential Master Butchers will be expected to excel.

Jermey acknowledged there was nothing to stop any butcher calling themselves 'Master Butcher', but pointed out that only those who had gone through the MTC's process would be able to prove they had been accredited officially to Master Butcher level.

Butchers interested in applying for the scheme should contact Mary Fisher, on or 07917 133208.

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