The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)
Supervisory Veterinarian

North/Eastern part of The Netherlands

Your challenge


The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) monitors food safety and animal welfare in the Netherlands. To boost supervisory capacity, the NVWA is looking for veterinarians to strengthen its team. We have many openings in regions across the country, with guaranteed opportunities in the north/east. Your main responsibility as a supervising veterinarian is to protect both animals and humans by ensuring that the slaughter process complies with regulations. This challenging role comes with responsibility, and you will focus on making a real difference when it comes to animal welfare at small, medium, and large slaughterhouses (red meat and poultry). You check whether animals are healthy and whether all operations from transport to slaughter are carried out hygienically and in accordance with laws, regulations, and guidelines. If necessary, you will take appropriate measures to rectify any compliance issues. You will also travel to primary companies, export collections centres, and cold stores for certification activities.
At the NVWA you will be given plenty of development opportunities. To ensure you have all the necessary tools and knowledge to start in this job, we provide a compulsory 9-month training program including a Dutch crash course, as well as future training courses.

Training to Supervisory Veterinarian


The intensive 9-month training to become a Supervisory Veterinarian consists of numerous modules that cover the legislation and regulations pertaining to slaughtering in detail. Another important aspect of study is training in communications. A veterinarian identifies many things, including abnormalities. It is important that you are able to convey this to the client, able to justify far-reaching decisions and stand your ground in conflict situations if necessary.
After completing specific modules, you may work independently during certain parts of the training period. The indicated 9 months is a guideline and also includes a Dutch language course. The actual duration of the training period depends on your Dutch proficiency, the speed of your development and your total hours worked.

Colleagues

Pauline Vooren
Supervising veterinarian

If you want to guarantee the welfare of animals in abattoirs from beginning to end, you need to be in the thick of it. That is exactly what I do now.

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Food safety and animal welfare

‘If I see a violation of animal welfare, I can do something about it straight away. People are sometimes shocked that I work in an abattoir, but I explain it well. Rather than find it distressing, I recognised the value of national and European legislation and compliance with it. For both food safety and animal welfare.’

Varied work

After 5 years’ practical experience as a veterinarian, Pauline sought more challenging work than the inoculation of dogs and cats, amongst others. She now supervises all abattoir activities in the Veluwe poultry sector for the NVWA. ‘The variation between administration, a round of checks through the abattoir and liaison with the inspectors and the abattoir owner, combined with being able to contribute to animal welfare, means I always look forward to going to work.’

Site visits

I monitor the whole process in the abattoir. That starts with the farmer who delivers the live chickens. I check on how they tolerated transport. Whether there are any welfare issues and whether they look healthy. They are then anaesthetised and slaughtered. I then check the carcasses to see whether the meat is in order. While doing that, I check whether all activities at the company are carried out hygienically. I do quite a bit of walking back and forth in a day. I always feel welcome at the companies I visit. But there are times you need to highlight certain issues and produce a report that could lead to fines. That can be stressful. But European and national agreements have been made and we comply with those. That back-up in terms of what is permitted and what is not gives me the confidence to take action decisively. Based on what I have seen thus far, I would say that we slaughter correctly in the Netherlands.

Work-Life balance

My job at the NVWA fits in well with my home life. Now I have a son, I am temporarily working 16 hours a week instead of 32 hours. I sometimes have to get up very early because the fact is that abattoirs start early. But I am usually finished by early afternoon. Naturally, things go wrong sometimes, for example, a chain snaps and the slaughtering process takes an hour longer, but those are exceptions.’

Angelique Luijkx
Veterinarian

I contribute to the health and welfare of animals and to food safety. Taking a life is always difficult, but as a veterinarian, at least I ensure that it happens in the correct way

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Monitoring in the abattoir

Standing in the stalls of a large abattoir, Angelique explains how many animals are processed on-site every day: up to 400 cows, bulls and calves. It is an orderly process that takes place according to strict rules, she says. ‘I check whether the butchers work cleanly, whether the animals are transported correctly and whether they are healthy.’ If necessary, the NVWA can take steps against the abattoir based on her report.

Identifying diseases

All carcasses are first inspected by official assistants from the Kwaliteitskeuring Dierlijke Sector (KDS) at the abattoir. They dissect the organs to see whether there are diseases. If so, the carcass is removed from the slaughter line. The presiding veterinarian then looks at the complex abnormalities. Angelique: ‘If in doubt, bacteriological studies can also be carried out for confirmation, for example. The result is known within a few days. 'A comprehensive report about your sick cow from the university, you have to admit that’s impressive.'

Guaranteeing maximum safety

Angelique and a colleague discuss the cases of the day in their office at the abattoir. Out of 160 cattle, 2 had endocarditis, an infection of the heart. One cow had parasites, recognisable from the green spots on the masticatory muscles. ‘Ideally, there would be no cases of sickness, but better now than that abnormal meat finding its way to consumers’, says Angelique.

Weekly roster

Angelique works 27 hours a week, spread over 3 fixed days. ‘In principle, I have no set starting times. On Friday, I get my global roster for the following week. I only hear what time I need to start at the end of the previous working day. You see, it depends on what time the animals arrive at the abattoir.’

Alternative structure to the working day

A large proportion of time spent travelling to the abattoir is included in working time. In addition, you can request office-based days for writing up reports. Angelique: ‘I spend an average of 1.5 hours a day on reports and administration. For example, I complete hygiene checklists and lists about traceability of slaughtered products.’

Communication at work

‘You sometimes have to make far-reaching decisions, even if abattoir workers would prefer a different outcome. In that sense, you are in a position of power. But on the other hand: you are a guest at the abattoir. I think it is very important to greet everyone on arrival. Not only so people know I am about to start my inspection, but also out of genuine respect for the abattoir workers: they work 10 hours a day.’

What we are looking for


  • You are a legally qualified veterinarian
  • Experience as a veterinarian or within the sector is preferred, however recent graduates are welcome to apply.
  • You speak and write English fluently.
  • You have excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to quickly learn Dutch.
  • You display strong business acumen; you prioritise effectively and make decisions quickly when necessary.
  • You consistently embody the NVWA`s mission and values.
  • You are self-confident and perform well under pressure.
  • You have a valid driving license.
  • You are willing to relocate to the Netherlands.

The NVWA


The NVWA monitors animal and plant health, animal welfare, and the safety of food and consumer products, as well as enforcing nature legislation.
The NVWA ensures this compliance, as well as making sure animals and nature are treated responsibly. The NVWA also looks into the biggest risks to humans, animals, and nature, carrying out assessments and taking action where necessary.

Our enforcement involves inspections, communication, and investigations, and aims to facilitate compliance. The NVWA also plays an important role in export inspections and the import of products to Europe. Our core values are transparency, reliability, independence, and leadership.

Your department


The Veterinary and Import (V&I) department approves and certifies live animals, other live products, and meat. The Netherlands is Europe's largest exporter of live animals, and animal welfare is an important consideration. Entrepreneurs must therefore comply with rules regarding animal welfare as well as regulations surrounding the structure of their organisation. V&I staff ensure compliance with rules regarding food safety (meat and meat products), animal health, and animal welfare.

We offer

Working hours

The contracted working hours are three days per week (24 hours) minimum with a preference for full-time (36 hours).

Salary

You will start at salary scale 10 (€4.106 maximum based on experience). In addition to your salary and 8% holiday pay, you will receive a year-end bonus (8.3%), also known as the 'thirteenth month'.

Contract

We offer an initial contract for a period of 2 years. If you successfully complete the training course and perform well, you will be offered a permanent position.

Career development

The NVWA is committed to personal growth and (career) development. At the start you will receive a paid 9-month training program, including an intensive language course to learn Dutch (level B2). In addition you receive future training courses to keep up to date and expand your skills.

Other benefits

Secondary benefits include a company car, a maximum of 55% paid parental leave (conditions apply), education options, additional leave for employees aged 45 and over, an excellent pension scheme, and collective insurance policies. The NVWA also offers its employees a variety of options regarding benefits.

Contact Us

We would like to hear from you.


Mike Vermeulen

+31 30 634 00 88

vermeulen@qsxl.com