Dairy processors can soon nominate for the 2023 Dairysafe Food Safety Culture Award, to be presented at the 2023 SA Dairy Awards.

This is the third year of Dairysafe’s award, which aims to celebrate dairy businesses with champion food safety cultures.

“It’s largely acknowledged that embedding food safety within a company’s culture delivers successful and sustainable food safety outcomes, and positive business outcomes,” said Geoff Raven, CEO of Dairysafe.

Katrina Lelli, Quality Manager of Obela, agrees. Obela, which produces well-known dips and spreads, including Red Rock Deli and Copperpot ranges, was nominated for the 2021 and the 2022 Food Safety Culture Award and was a finalist in 2021.

“For Obela, it has been a great opportunity to tease out the layers of our wholistic quality assurance system and identify gaps where we could strengthen our culture and confirm if our direction is correct,” Katrina said.

In recent years, Obela has transitioned from a traditional top-down communication approach to a bottom-up approach.

“Obela’s biggest strength has always been management commitment, but we’ve built a focus on frontline staff helping us identify and document needed improvements,” Katrina said.

“The Food Safety Culture Awards have confirmed that we are moving in the right direction by building our bottom-up culture. I think that’s a huge win for Obela going forward.

“Frontline staff have significant knowledge and by including everyone in the improvement of processes and practices, it means everyone has ownership of food safety and ensures a successful food safety culture.

“We also have a great rewards and recognition system in place which rewards people for speaking up and supports our speak up culture.”

Katrina said food safety culture is very much an evolution rather than an installation of a formal step by step system.

“The Food Safety Culture Awards give a business an opportunity to shine a light on their current practices and actually analyse what they do towards promoting food safety culture,” she said.

Dairysafe has reviewed the awards process to prepare for the 2023 award. “We started by talking to previous nominees, identifying what worked well and identifying potential improvements,” Geoff said. “I think we’ve nailed some really good enhancements that will help this year’s nominees.”

In 2023, nominees will:

  • Have an opportunity to be briefed on how to complete the nomination form.
  • Be supplied with instructions that offer clarity on what we’re looking for in a nomination.
  • Have the opportunity to discuss their nomination with past winners.
  • Be given examples of what has worked for previous winners in terms of their culture journey, e.g., tools, concepts and processes.
  • Be briefed on the expectations of the interview process (for shortlisted nominees), e.g., evidence required, site visits.
  • Be given resources that could assist.

In addition, the 2023 nomination form will be aligned with the GFSI Food Safety Culture model, which describes the five dimensions and critical components of a food safety culture.

Award finalists will be presented at the 2023 DIAA SA Dairy Awards Gala Dinner later this year. The Award winner will receive an education, training and development grant.