Instilling food safety and healthy practices from the ground level up to management are the twin pillars of all operations at Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages. The beverage company has established processes, incentive-based key performance indicators, training for all personnel, and individual role goals revolving around the safety of its products.
For its high level of quality and safety, Hindustan Coca-Cola was recently named the winner of the Food Quality & Safety Award for 2019 in the large business category. The award honors the dedication and achievement of organizations making significant contributions to uphold the highest food standards supported by quantifiable results. This year, a panel of industry judges concluded that Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages in the large business category and Endangered Species Chocolate in the small business category demonstrated impressive efforts in their technology, certifications, training, regulatory compliance, and risk reduction.
“The inculcation of a food safety culture into the veins of each and every one of our employees has been our first and foremost motto,” the company stated in its award application.
Hindustan Coca-Cola was founded in 1997, and the Dasna, India-based, plant that won the Food Quality & Safety Award started in 1999. The factory manufactures non-carbonated, water-based flavored drinks, including punches, ales, ginger cocktails, aseptically processed fruit beverages, thermally processed fruit beverages; carbonated water-based flavored drinks; carbonated beverages and sweetened carbonated beverages; and water. Today, it is one of India’s top fast-moving consumer goods companies. Fellow Indians, the company says, choose its beverages 477 times per second.
Hindustan Coca-Cola has worked to mistake-proof its processes at every step. This so-called process “interlock” halts operations if any step isn’t in compliance with preset food quality and safety measures. The company is also using an upgraded multi-barrier water purification system to ensure the finished product is safe. Ultraviolet treatment is installed at manufacturing lines to mitigate cross-contamination in intermediate lines.
Hindustan Coca-Cola installed clean-in-place and clean-out-of-place automatic systems to ensure food safety, as well as a fully automatic hand-wash station at the entrance to the manufacturing area. Employees’ fingertips and hand palms are swabbed before and after hand washing to double-check cleanliness.
Hindustan Coca-Cola has proposed quality corrections in 2019 and 2020 that are aimed at getting to a 90+ good manufacturing practice score. They include its water purification system upgrade, upgrading the factory roof, installing water and ice protection, and getting 100 percent compliance at all process interlocks. The company also installed a new Tetra manufacturing line, placed new epoxy in the SASIB automatic pack line area, installed biometric access control in the filling rooms, and added shuttle racks for first-expired, first-out product handling. They are also working to reduce clean-in-place and changeover times. The canteen and toilet areas also will be refurbished.
Training for Safety
An external agency organizes Food Safety Training and Certification (FoSTaC) for employees as required by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. An external agency also organizes internal auditor training for the Food Safety System Certification 22000 and ISO 9001:2015 standards. Food handlers receive personal hygiene awareness training and are told not to wear jewelry during shifts.
While the company follows the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India regulations and the Food Safety System Certification 22000 and ISO 9001:2015 standards as well as its internal food safety plan, it also has audit programs in place both in-house and for its suppliers. The supplier audit is conducted by one if its Coca-Cola corporate business units and on the basis of the score the supplier is authorized to supply material to all bottling plants. Additionally, Coca-Cola provides online software for its plants to check their compliance monthly.
In-house good manufacturing practice audits are done monthly. Additionally, a separate global GMP audit is done to match the practices in the Coca-Cola bottling plants around the world.
The company also hires licensed experts to provide pest control based on denying entry, food, and shelter, and destroying intruders. The service must follow approved environmentally safe chemicals rules set by the corporate business.
Hindustan Coca-Coca has an all-surface electronic bottle inspection system that can automatically detect and reject defective returnable glass bottles. It looks for defects like foreign bodies, residual content from washing, and chipped bottle necks. The inspection system uses high-frequency cameras and infrared high-frequency rays to detect faults. Advanced microbiological analytical equipment ensures that the juices produced are free from a microbiological load.
To improve hygiene, the company has installed air-handling units in manufacturing areas. It also fumigates those areas. All manufacturing entrances and sensitive areas are controlled by biometric access, which helps with contamination, and all entrances have air curtains to prevent cross-contamination from the outside to the inside of the filling or process area. All of the air curtains are interlocked with the door openings.
Hindustan Coca-Cola says all these measures have resulted in zero product recalls and declining consumer complaints.
For its total food quality and safety program, the company has created a cross-functional food safety team that includes production, quality, safety, environment, maintenance, human resources, and administration. The team meets at least twice monthly to discuss progress and loopholes.
Last year, the company received the Confederation of Indian Industries Appreciation award for its food safety diligence and compliance.
And as the company stated in its award application: “Our innovation projects have challenged the status quo, have helped build capabilities, and have driven our long-term growth.”