As agriculture is of the utmost importance for the South African economy and agricultural products are exported to other countries and the fact that the South African population is dependent on agricultural products for food, it is important to maintain high quality standards. Agricultural inspectors are technicians who inspect and evaluate the quality and standard of various agricultural products, used domestically or exported.
They also inspect processing equipment and facilities, and fish and logging operations, to ensure compliance with the regulations and laws governing health, quality and safety. They monitor the grading performed by company employees to verify conformance to standards, collect samples from animals, plants or products and send them back to laboratories for microbiological assessment, ingredient verification or other testing. They inspect or test horticultural products or livestock to detect harmful diseases, chemical residues or infestations, and to determine the quality of the products or animals. They need to examine, weigh and measure commodities such as poultry, eggs, meat or seafood to certify qualities, grades and weights, and set labelling standards and approve labels for meat or poultry products.
Other tasks are to provide consultative services in areas such as equipment or product evaluation, plant construction or layout, or food safety systems, and to advise farmers or growers of development programmes or new equipment or techniques to aid in quality production.
Three areas of specialisation are:
Plants: Plant and quality control technicians are responsible for plant health services, plant and seed control services and analysis services. These people control the quality and marking requirements of fresh plant, animal and liquor products and also focus on the control of plant diseases and harmful insects. They direct or monitor the quarantine and treatment or destruction of plants, or plant products.
Meat: The primary function of meat inspectors is to ensure that slaughtered animals are fit for human consumption. It is important to inspect the levels of hygiene and cleanliness in abattoirs. They inspect the cleanliness and practices of establishment employees, and monitor the operations and sanitary conditions of slaughtering or meat processing plants. They set standards for the production of meat or poultry products or for food ingredients, additives or compounds used to prepare or package products.
Animal Health: Animal health technicians assist veterinary surgeons in preventing and controlling diseases through a variety of methods, including research into these diseases and the production of vaccines and dips. They inspect livestock to determine the effectiveness of medication or feeding programmes and verify that transportation and handling procedures meet regulatory requirements. These people ensure that farmers respect the laws regarding animal health, and inform and guide farmers in the control of animal diseases.
Department of Agriculture