Mon Jul 26 04:13pm EDT
If hefty price tags, long lines and marginal quality hadn't convinced you to avoid eating concessions at professional sporting events, an ESPN report might do the job.
The network recently compiled a list of 2009 health-inspection reports from every major professional sports venue (MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA) in North America and the results were startling.
Health inspectors found rodent droppings, improper hand-washing, bacterial growth, poor refrigeration, expired meat and the presence of toxic material — and those were just the “critical violations.” More than half of the vendors were cited for such violations at one-third of the venues. And at two stadiums, Tropicana Field in Tampa and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., inspectors cited all of the vendors for critical violations.
Some of the lowlights from the report, courtesy of ESPN:
Verizon Center (Washington D.C.) — Mice droppings, a critical violation in Washington, were found at at least 10 vendors.
Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati) — Inspectors saw an employee scraping food debris from a spatula using the trash bin and then trying to continue using the same spatula without cleaning it.
St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa) — At one location with five critical violations, an inspector saw an employee handle dirty dishes and then put away clean dishes without washing his/her hands or changing gloves. The same location lacked soap at a hand sink.
Staples Center (Los Angeles) — One stand dumped 9.5 pounds of sushi after inspectors found that it had become too warm.
One could argue that if you're ordering sushi at a basketball game, you're playing with fire, but it’s reasonable for fans to expect that whatever food they're ordering at a game is safe and properly handled.
It should be noted that each state has different inspection requirements, so an 84 percent violation rate at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa doesn't necessarily mean that the vendors there are six times as dirty as ones at Candlestick Park (13 percent). Florida had the worst overall violation rate, but that’s likely a result of tougher inspection criteria rather than a systemic statewide penchant for improperly washed sinks.
Chicago stadiums had the lowest percentage of vendors with critical violations; that could be because city inspectors make their visits when the stadiums are empty and no employee is handling or serving food. (Gotta lova that Chicago political machine.) Canada also had low violation rates for each venue.