When I was asked to go on a field trip to learn more about JJ’s fresh Welsh lamb I was thrilled at the opportunity to learn more about our products while spending time with the JJ branch managers from across the UK. The only thing I was nervous about was the thought of visiting an abattoir as I’d never been to one before.
The tour of the rolling fields of Wales was over and we now headed to the factory.
Most people have an idea of what an abattoir is like, but having watched my fair share of horror movies, I wasn’t phased by the sight of blood, guts and carcasses. In fact I was quite impressed with how well I handled the sight of freshly cut lambs heads and I admired my own calm demeanour when having my brilliant white overalls splattered with lambs innards.
What I didn’t expect was the amazingly pungent smell that hit me when we arrived at the offal room, where less popular parts of the animal like stomach, intestines and appendages are cleaned and exported to places like Asia.
No matter how much I told myself to think of the lambs as food not friends I couldn’t help feeling anxious about how they might react to the process. Did they know what was coming? Did they have a sixth sense? Incredibly, the process was calm. Careful planning meant that the lambs never saw what was happening until the moment they were stunned. Then the rest of the process took place quickly, efficiently and under the highest quality safety standards.
My husband joked that the trip would put me off eating lamb altogether but it didn’t. It made me feel good about eating PGI-certified products and more curious about how non-certified meats are produced. Sampling the lamb took place during a formal dinner arranged by our suppliers. It was held at a beautiful historic hotel, which was set among the backdrop of beautiful Welsh greenery. I managed to convince a few people it was haunted!
For me, the most enjoyable part of the trip was the team building archery session at the end. Due to heavy rain we were unable to take part in the outdoor Sumo wrestling although some members of staff were clearly keen to use the huge Sumo suits to settle some male egos. Instead, we all opted for archery which brought out the most competitive side of everyone (especially one of the ladies in our group) making it hugely entertaining and fun.
Note to everyone: if you ever find yourself in a combat situation, have the Leeds branch manager Richard on your side. His ability was strangely phenomenal!
Overall I had a fantastic time and I’m already looking forward to my next JJ field trip.
For pictures and videos of the day follow us on Twitter and search #JJfieldtrip