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Safety First: The Importance of Choosing the Right Knives for New Zealand Butchers

January 4, 2024

When you Work With Knives In New Zealand – Be Careful! 

According to a study by WorkSafe New Zealand, knife injuries accounted for 25% of all reported injuries in the meat processing sector back in 2019. The roll-on effect of this resulted in 1,200 lost workdays and $1.2 million in compensation costs. 

Butchers understand that knives are equally important to meat in their jobs, but not all knives in New Zealand are imported or manufactured equally. 

Quite A Selection

There are lots of different kinds and uses for knives in New Zealand that butchers use for:

  • Cutting up meat into pieces (called boning)
  • Splitting apart big parts of animals (called breaking)
  • Even on the edges and final touches to food (trimming work)
  • Removing an animal’s hide, they use a (skinning knife) 

Heavy metal blocks are often used for chopping boneless cuts from animals; some might refer to these items specifically by their name, cleaver.

Each of these knives has good and bad points. This depends on what kind of meat it is, how big or small the knife cuts are, how they look like a sliced piece or jagged one (or something in between), as well as someone’s own abilities and likes.

So, it’s really important to pick the right knives for different jobs in butchering. This keeps things safe and helps work well while making sure what you make is good. 

In this blog, we will take a closer look at how picking good knives for the correct jobs can really lower the chance of accidents and make work better and faster. It also helps to follow basic rules and techniques to cut meat correctly.


Picking the right knives for each job can lower the risk of mistakes, getting hurt, and subsequently getting cut. Knives come in various shapes, sizes and weights that can change how they are used.

For instance, a boning knife has a slim and bendable edge that takes meat away from bones. On the other hand, a meat-cutting knife has a strong and full blade perfect for slicing big parts of meat into smaller sizes.

Using the Right Knife is Essential 

Using the wrong knife for a job can make it more likely that you or someone else will get hurt by slipping, cutting or accidentally poking. For example, if you use a knife that’s not good for cutting bone, it can make you push and press too hard. This might cause the knife to move suddenly, causing harm to your hand or wrist.

On the other hand, using a boning knife to break things can lead to not enough power and accuracy. This may make the knife bend or snap, making sharp pieces that could easily slice a finger.

Filleting knife or chef’s knife, along with a fishing knife, kitchen knife, boning knife or hunting knife, when made by premium manufacturers such as Giesser have blades forged from the finest metals and around 250 years of experience behind them, so safety is paramount.

TIP: – Ensure you look up personal protective equipment (PPE). Things like chain mesh gloves butchers should always be wearing. TPU aprons are also highly recommended.

Being cut with a knife can cause serious and long-term problems like infections, harm to nerves or even the loss of a finger or thumb. So, picking the right knives and PPE for each job can make things safer and stop injuries.


Picking the right knives in New Zealand for each job can also make butcher work better and more skilled.

Various knives have different ways of cutting, edges and sharp points, which change how good they are for slicing meat in various styles or parts. For example, a cutting tool with curved and sharp edges takes off fat from meat. 

On the other hand, another such tool that has a straight blade not so pointed is perfect for removing skin on top of it.

Using a knife that fits a certain job well can make cutting, slicing or trimming meat quicker and more exact. It also makes these tasks easier to do. 

If you use a sharp knife to take the skin off the meat, it can make too much waste and hurt or spoil the meat. This happens because the blade may cut holes in both skin and inside parts of what’s being cut up.

On the other hand, using a skinning knife to cut things can make the blade less sharp and lead to damage because it might touch or grind against bone and fat.

Using the correct knives for different jobs can boost how well and quickly butchers work, saving them time or money as well as making their customers happy; everyone has orders to fill. 

So, your ideal knives for each job ensure you maintain a workflow adequate enough to fill the orders. 

Legal and Ethical Issues

Picking the right knives for each job can also help butchers in New Zealand follow the rules and laws that are linked to their work.

In New Zealand, different knives have varying rules and laws around them. This is based on how they were made for use or meant to be used.

For example, a cleaver has a big and heavy cutting part that’s great for cutting bones and soft parts, while a dagger has two sharp sides on its blade, which are wonderful to use when throwing or poking something.

If you use a wrong or banned knife for some work, you may have to pay fines, face punishments, or even go through legal action.

Some rules, like those set by the Food Safety Law, control how knives can be used in the meat business. This law sets up what should and shouldn’t be done to keep knives clean and germ-free, along with other kitchen tools.

So, picking the right knives for each job can ensure you follow the law and act ethically.


Safety in the workplace is paramount in many industries around the world, but in butchery, it is of utmost importance. There are many opportunities in butchery to end up with an injury of sorts.  That’s where selecting the right knives to use in New Zealand, alongside personal protective equipment (PPE), is right up there. If you get both right, you’ll have a productive line and be hitting quotas easily.  Good luck!