Ten California counties, including Santa Clara County, have settled a civil lawsuit filed against the Sysco Corporation regarding storing perishable foods in un-refrigerated and unregistered storage sheds.
Sysco Corporation will pay $19 million in restitution, costs and civil penalties for allowing seven Operating Companies to store the food in at least 22 unregistered storage sheds, according to the Marin County District Attorney's Office, one of the Bay Area plaintiffs.
The other Bay Area plaintiffs are Alameda, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma countries. The judgment against Sysco was entered Thursday, July 17, in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The complaint alleged that between 2009 and 2013, Sysco used refrigerated food trucks to transport products for some customer orders in the food industry to the sheds that were not registered with the California Department of Public Health.
The perishable food products were picked up throughout the day by Sysco marketing associates in unregistered personal vehicles for delivery to Sysco customers, the Marin County District Attorney's Office said.
The complaint also alleged Sysco engaged in misleading advertising regarding food safety standards.
The California Department of Public Health investigated the practice after a NBC Bay Area undercover investigation. The CDPH found some of the 22 storage sheds also were unsanitary, the Marin County District Attorney's Office said.
Sysco voluntarily ceased the alleged practices when the civil action was taken by the district attorneys'offices.
One of the sheds was in the Greenbrae area of Marin County.
"The results of this consumer protection enforcement action is a great accomplishment in enhancing food safety for not only Marin County residents but for consumers statewide who could potentially be affected by unsafe food handling practices," Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said.
Under the settlement, Sysco will pay $15 million in civil penalties, over $4 million in restitution that includes a $1 million food contribution to food banks throughout California and $3.3 million to the California Department of Public Health Food Safety Division for the cost of a 5-year statewide food inspection program.
Sysco also is prohibited from engaging in unsafe food transportation and storage practices and required to develop a comprehensive food safety program to ensure the practices are not repeated.