Food Safety

Delivering confidence by the truckload.

As the industry leader in foodservice marketing and distribution, we put our reputation behind every product we deliver. That’s why we make sure that Sysco Brand products offer the best in wholesomeness, consistency, quality and—above all—food safety.
At Sysco, quality and food safety go hand in hand


Our quality process requires full cooperation and close communication between our suppliers and Sysco’s Quality Assurance professionals. This ensures that we are all working toward the same goal of providing our 400,000 customers the consistency and quality they've come to expect, and the safety and wholesomeness they demand.

Defining Sysco Quality Assurance

At more than 100 strong, the Sysco Quality Assurance Department is the industry's largest and most active. It is a long-standing, ongoing and evolving program consisting of stringent product standards and in-depth evaluation programs.
Quality Assurance professionals work in cooperation with our valued suppliers to design, develop and implement Food Safety and Quality Assurance Programs that ensure consistent product quality, compliance with applicable FDA and USDA regulations, and alignment with Sysco product standards and specifications.

Empowering Sysco's Quality Assurance Team

Sysco Quality Assurance professionals work around the clock—and around the globe in prime growing and production areas—to ensure Sysco Brand product safety.
These experienced food experts are the very best technical people in the foodservice business. Many joined Sysco with prior experience in raising, growing, harvesting, processing, storing and handling food products, with special competencies in high risk or sensitive product lines. And Sysco trusts and empowers our QA professionals to approve suppliers and—if necessary—disapprove any supplier who does not comply with Sysco's strict Quality Assurance standards.

Defining the Roles of Sysco's Quality Assurance Team

Sysco's Program Quality Managers develop and enforce product specifications, ensuring that Sysco Brand products always meet or exceed our exacting requirements. Our contracted Field Inspection Specialists are responsible for continual on-line or lot inspection of Sysco Brand products, with special attention given to the key products subject to the greatest variations, such as fresh and processed meat, produce, imported food products and seafood.

Creating a Sysco Brand Product

Sysco’s professional Quality Assurance team conducts Initial Facility Audits of prospective suppliers to affirm that their food safety controls are sufficient, and that the supplier can meet Sysco’s exacting product specifications. These Initial Facility Audits must be completed before Sysco purchases any product from a branded supplier, and is not outsourced to independent audit agencies.

Verifying Product Safety Parameters

We periodically conduct in-plant food safety and quality audits—on both an announced and unannounced basis—as an extra precautionary step to ensure that all suppliers maintain Sysco’s highest standards.
Raw ingredients, plant-water quality, pest control and the cleanliness of processing equipment are just a few of the conditions we review with every inspection. We also review microbiology test results from independent, USDA-certified labs for indicator organisms and food-borne pathogens such as Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC), salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum to assure that food safety systems are operating at maximum effectiveness.

Sysco requires that every supplier conduct a thorough hazard analysis and implement proven preventative measures, such as a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), to address any food safety concerns, including pathogens, allergens, physical contaminants and chemicals.

These rigid controls and system checks are not just for our suppliers; Sysco has also completed this same risk assessment within our own distribution systems—from procurement through delivery—to better control food safety risks in every segment of the supply chain. 

When it comes to product safety parameters, we leave absolutely no stone unturned.

Sysco Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Protecting our customers and their guests from potential exposure to food-borne pathogens is one of our highest priorities. That’s why Sysco requires that all suppliers of high-risk, ready-to-eat produce items meet the stringent safety and quality standards outlined in Sysco’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) initiative.

Compliance to Sysco GAP is mandatory for all suppliers of Sysco products. Suppliers of high-risk, ready-to-eat produce items—regardless of operation size—must have a current and acceptable Good Agricultural Practices audit uploaded into the Sysco GAP database. Every GAP audit is monitored and maintained by Sysco’s QA Department and must be conducted by Sysco-approved third-party auditing agencies. This allows us to assess and report supplier compliance based on a number of key parameters, such as product type, growing region, audit results and individual supplier.

To date, more than 580 suppliers are actively involved in the Sysco GAP program, and our internal monitoring system houses more than 60,000 current and complete audits from every corner of the globe.

Food Safety Advocacy

Sysco understands the importance of food safety education and regularly educates customers on a range of quality and safety topics, from personal hygiene to utensil cleaning and everything in between. We also support our customers in obtaining additional training through a variety of national and local sources, including the NRA’s ServSafe program.
Sysco works with and supports industry efforts to improve Food Safety at every level. Our QA team members are engaged in professional industry associations such as the International Association for Food Protection, American Meat Science Association and the Institute of Food Technologists. Sysco also supports the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and is currently participating in multiple GFSI technical working groups to improve and standardize food safety audit criteria and standards.