Sysco fined $19.4 million for food safety breaches in California
US-based global food marketing and distribution company Sysco has agreed to pay a settlement of US$19.4 million with the State of California, for claims related to the Company’s use of drop sites in California.
The $19.4 million settlement includes a payment of $15 million in penalties, $3.3 million to fund four California Department of Public Health investigator positions for five years, a $1 million donation to food banks across California, and $127,000 in costs.
Sysco is a global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its portfolio of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. The company operates 193 distribution facilities serving approximately 425,000 customers. In the 2013 financial year, the Company generated record sales of more than $44 billion.
“Food safety is Sysco’s number one priority, and it cannot be compromised,” said Bill DeLaney, Sysco’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
“We sincerely regret that some of our California companies failed to adhere to our long-standing policies related to drop sites,” Mr DeLaney said. “The California Department of Public Health and the county district attorneys received our full cooperation in their investigations of our practices,” he said.
In addition to the settlement with the state, Mr DeLaney said Sysco had “comprehensively addressed” its food safety and quality assurance practices in California and across the Sysco enterprise.
“First, as we stated in September 2013, we eliminated the use of drop sites across Sysco,” Mr DeLaney said. “Second, we have introduced mandatory, annual food safety training for all employees across Sysco. Third, we are implementing additional and improved food safety reporting, monitoring and compliance controls across our operations to ensure adherence to our policies,” he said.
“Taking these steps reflects Sysco’s commitment to food safety across our enterprise,” Mr DeLaney said. “We accept responsibility for the breakdown in our system in California, and we have taken this opportunity to improve our practices and to re-emphasize to our customers and our employees that food safety is our number one priority,” he said.