Sysco case spotlights cold chain vigilance

07/18/2013 04:58:00 PM
Mike Hornick

“Sysco won’t let it go on,” Stoiber said of the apparent violations in San Francisco. “They will probably have a top-to-bottom review of all their distribution centers and where they’re leaving products. And other distributors who were lucky enough not to have the camera pointed at their product are going to react pretty quickly, too, to make sure the practice doesn’t exist. Because maintaining the cold chain is absolutely essential for food safety in a heightened food safety atmosphere.”

Earlier in his career, Stoiber worked for Sysco Corp.

Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for Salinas, Calif.-based Church Bros. LLC, said his company’s cold chain education efforts with customers happen daily.

“This particular incident that the media got wind of is a good reminder for the trade that you’ve got to keep it cold,” Van Eeghen said. “There certainly are people who are not watching this as carefully as they should.”

Tim York, president of Salinas-based foodservice company Markon Cooperative Inc., saw the episode as an aberration for Sysco.

“Sysco is very well-run and well-managed,” York said. “They did not get to be a $40 billion company by making this a standard operating practice.”

“On social media lately we’ve seen a Taco Bell employee licking a taco shell and a Golden Corral restaurant employee showing product being stored outside,” York said. “I look at those as unfortunate but isolated incidents. It’s not standard practice for Sysco let alone other quality foodservice distributors.”

Still, Sysco’s misstep was reason enough to revisit the topic of food safety within the group of eight broadline foodservice companies that comprise Markon Cooperative.

“We reminded our members about the critical link they are,” York said. “It underscored that cold chain management and food safety practices are a total supply chain responsibility.”

Sysco contacted clients whose product had been in the sheds, Wilson said in his statement.

“We are taking the precautionary measure with those affected customers to withdraw all products from the supply chain that had moved through the non-compliant Bay Area drop-sites,” he said. “These customers are being asked to examine their inventory and dispose of the identified products. In these instances, their accounts will be credited accordingly.”

“Sysco’s first priority is our commitment to provide safe, quality-assured products to our customers,” according to his statement.

Inspectors found rat droppings, insects and other unsanitary conditions inside the sheds, according to NBC Bay Area.

State health officials declined to comment on possible penalties. Sysco could face misdemeanor criminal charges and a $1,000 fine for each violation.


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