Bega Dairy and Drinks won the inaugural Dairysafe Food Safety Culture Award in 2021. We caught up with Bega to talk about their food safety program, and what winning the award means to them.

At Bega, everyone on site is responsible for food safety. “It is as intrinsic in our culture as personal safety,” a Bega spokesperson said. 

“Everyone on site has the authorisation and support of the senior leadership team to stop any activity that places themselves, others, our product or environment at risk. 

“Our team members are empowered and are actively encouraged to constructively challenge the status quo in any part of their day-to-day activities to improve the workplace, which has the added benefit of improving the safety of our product, the safety of our people and our general operations.”

The site operates under a Lean Manufacturing and Operational Excellence program, branded BEX (Bega Excellence) which provides specific and measurable targets to improve site performance across multiple streams, always aiming for ‘world class’. 

“Food safety and quality are visible across all levels of the operation and are discussed every day, multiple times per day, and always at the start of each shift,” the Bega spokesperson said.

“The meeting at the start of each shift is between the leaders and their teams and are known as Tier 1 (T1) meetings. The instructions and outcomes are replicated through all areas of the site going next to our T2 level – Cross Function team leaders – and then to T3 – Site Leadership teams.”

This means everyone knows what has happened on site in the past 24 hours and are aware of any issues that team members need to be across in the upcoming 24 hours.

In addition to this, team members actively discuss issues with each other as they hand over machines and workstations through the day.

“Team members are proactive with raising issues and will place product on hold automatically, prior to escalating to leaders, to ensure it is being addressed and has minimal impact to next process down the line,” the spokesperson said.

“Near miss reporting is encouraged and actively discussed within the T1 meetings with many near miss or incidents triggering problem solving events. We use the ‘Five Why’ problem-solving process, which is an interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

“Larger and more complex food safety or quality incidents are addressed via Focussed Improvement Projects or more detailed problem-solving events often consisting of cross functional departments.”

Another part of the Bega Excellence program is the active use of the 5S system across site, which is a housekeeping methodology.

“This results in a workplace that is organised, easy to keep clean and reduces timewasting as items are where they need to be,” the spokesperson said.

In the future, Bega will continue to build on the expertise of its people and explore opportunities to continuously improve its management programs. 

“You never stop learning and food safety culture, like so many things, is a journey not a destination. You can never say you are finished,” the spokesperson said.  

Bega said winning Dairysafe’s Food Safety Culture Award was a testament to the people who work at Bega and their passion for, commitment to and ownership of food safety.