On the Road Again

When we say that Sysco’s Quality Assurance department is the “largest and most active” in the foodservice distribution industry, we mean it. With more than 100 QA professionals, our in-house department dwarfs that of our nearest competitor. While being the “largest” is purely a numbers game, being “active” means getting out of the office and into the field.

Each year, Sysco QA personnel travel hundreds of thousands of miles to ensure that our network of global suppliers maintains Sysco’s strict requirements for quality and safety. This level of vigilance takes dedicated resources, especially considering the large number of suppliers and supplier locations within the Sysco network. For two of Sysco’s star QA employees, this means traveling to every corner of the earth (quite literally) on a regular basis.

Eli Hollon, Sysco’s Program Quality Manager – Seafood, is in charge of compliance for Sysco seafood suppliers. During his most recent series of supplier audits in Asia, which kept him on the road for 20 days, Eli spent time in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India. While he was in the field, Eli met with multiple high-risk suppliers (defined as any supplier who furnishes ready-to-eat food items) in each region to ensure continued compliance with the standards and procedures put in place during Sysco’s supplier approval process. He is there to make sure every Sysco supplier is operating strictly by the book, from regulatory activities to food safety programs to reviews of finished products that stretch all the way back to the source. Part of his job is also to engage and educate onsite production and quality staff on the latest regulatory requirements to keep our suppliers as up-to-date as possible.

While Eli was in Asia, Keiju Terada, Program Quality Manager – Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables, was hard at work in Central and South America focusing on Sysco’s produce suppliers. Keiju’s last trip included time in Mexico and Guatemala, where he audited multiple processing and packing facilities to review safety and quality requirements with both current and new Sysco suppliers.

Both Eli and Keiju spend a lot of time on the road working to ensure the ongoing quality and safety of Sysco’s food supply. This makes for some long trips and hard hours, but QA staff members like Keiju and Eli wouldn’t have it any other way. Because when you are as passionate about quality and safety as Sysco is, you can never be satisfied sitting behind a desk — you have be prepared to get out in the field, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

For many in our industry, this may seem like a lot of hard work and a step too far. But for the largest and most active QA department in the foodservice distribution industry, it’s all in a day’s work.

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