Thursday, February 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Solano gets $1.5M in settlement with food distributor

By
From page A3 | July 19, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it will receive $1.5 million from Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food distributor and among the largest food distributors worldwide, as part a settlement of a lawsuit brought against the company by prosecutors in 10 California counties.

Sysco Inc. agreed to pay nearly $20 million in restitution, costs and penalties for the illegal practice of holding perishable foods – such as seafood, milk and raw meat – in unrefrigerated, unprotected storage sheds.

For several years, Sysco trucks routinely delivered food orders to unrefrigerated mini-storage units, the same type in which people store extra furniture and other household items. Most of these units had no refrigeration and some were unsanitary. Smaller orders were dropped secretly at these unregistered locations for employees to transport later to commercial customers. Sales representatives transported the smaller shipments in personal, unrefrigerated vehicles.

Sysco ceased the illegal practices once it was brought to light by a news reporter in 2013, according to Deputy District Attorney Diane Taira.

An investigation by the California Department of Public Health found that Sysco had used at least 22 unregistered sites throughout California. Food coming through these sites reached commercial customers including schools and hospitals. Sysco voluntarily cooperated with the investigation.

The lawsuit accused Sysco of engaging in misleading advertising, claiming to use only “state-of-the-art distribution warehouses,” and often going “above and beyond government regulations.” Sysco trucks also bear the slogan, “Quality Assured.”

Sysco agreed to pay more than $4 million in restitution including a contribution of $1 million worth of fresh food to California food banks and $3.3 million to fund a five-year statewide inspection program administered by the state. Sysco is also required to develop and carry out a comprehensive companywide food safety program to ensure these practices are not repeated.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Grumpy GusJuly 19, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    This is absolutely disgusting... How was this not a bigger story and one with a deeper US investigation... If you as one of the largest shipping corporations can decide on your own this is an ok practice to save you money... I imagine it is happening everywhere, and by all size of shipping companies... With all the food born illnesses we suffer from as a nation, and the cost in lives and productivity from them. This should be a huge story... If grocery stores decided they wanted to save money by shutting off the refrigeration in their meat/dairy/produce sections that would be big story, right?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • P.J.July 19, 2014 - 2:50 pm

    I'm with you Grumpy! I cannot believe people did not become seriously ill from this kind of neglect. Or, maybe some doctors and hospitals are wondering why some person was so ill. Any thought that it may come from this kind of contaminated food! I am amazed that the meat and dairy products were acceptable to the final destination! You are right! Disgusting!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 19, 2014 - 8:19 pm

    how long do you suppose this was practiced and subtracting fines and the other cost was the net result profitable enough that now they're just snickering behind our backs ?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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