How to become a Primary Products Inspector

Primary products inspectors examine animals, plants and agricultural produce at farms, abattoirs, processing and packing plants, wholesale markets and places of storage or shipment to ensure they meet government standards of hygiene and quality, and export requirements.

Personal requirements of a Primary Products Inspector

  • Normal colour vision
  • Confidence when dealing with people
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to make accurate observations
  • Good organisational and supervisory skills
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Aptitude for working with computers

Education & Training for a Primary Products Inspector

To become a meat inspector you usually have to complete a VET qualification in meat processing (meat safety). To become a sugarcane analyst/auditor you usually have to complete a VET qualification in laboratory skills or laboratory techniques. To become a primary products inspector in a field such as dairy or seafood you usually have to complete a VET qualification in the field of specialisation. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a meat inspector through a traineeship in Meat Processing (Meat Safety). Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Primary Products Inspector

Primary products inspectors may perform the following tasks:

  • check produce, live animals and crops for disease, insect or chemical residue and other damage, and reject those of substandard quality
  • check and grade produce (such as meat, fruit, vegetables, milk, grains, sugar cane and fish) during processing, ensuring ingredients used in processing meet government standards of purity and grading
  • supervise fumigation of ships and aircraft
  • supervise the proper disposal of quarantine garbage
  • examine imported plants, animals and products (timber, seeds and dried fruits, for example) and make quarantine arrangements
  • ensure commercial fishing regulations are obeyed
  • inspect livestock before and after slaughter to check that they are fit for human consumption
  • advise on packing and loading regulations
  • advise primary producers on economic aspects of disease eradication, and inform producers and the general public of health implications of diseases and impurities
  • appear in court to give evidence in cases involving breaches of the regulations.

Working conditions for a Primary Products Inspector

Primary products inspectors may be required to work shifts, including weekends.

Employment Opportunities for a Primary Products Inspector

To become a quarantine inspector you must first become an employee of the Department of Agriculture. Once employed, you will be required to participate in on-the-job training. Quarantine inspectors are employed at airports and seaports throughout Australia. Meat inspectors usually work at establishments that slaughter or process meat for export or domestic consumption. Employment opportunities for sugarcane analysts/auditors are mainly in Queensland, with limited opportunities in NSW and WA. Sugarcane analysts/auditors work in laboratories located within sugar mills, and most work rostered shifts.


Australian Quarantine Inspection Service Officer

An Australian quarantine inspection service officer prevents pests and diseases from entering the country by examining and treating all incoming and outgoing animals, plants, food, humans and machinery. Quarantine inspectors may work at international airports, seaports, mail exchanges and container depots.

Meat Inspector

A meat inspector inspects carcasses and internal organs of animals for disease and ensures the meat complies with health requirements.

Sugarcane Analyst/Auditor

A sugarcane analyst/auditor oversees the entire operations of sugarcane analysis programmes to ensure they comply with programme provisions.

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