Rethinking Stadium Food: An Interactive Guide

by Vince

Outside the Lines at ESPN presented a report on all 107 stadiums used by the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. What did they find?

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reviewed health department inspection reports for food and beverage outlets at all 107 North American arenas and stadiums that were home to Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association teams in 2009. At 30 of the venues (28 percent), more than half of the concession stands or restaurants had been cited for at least one “critical” or “major” health violation. Such violations pose a risk for foodborne illnesses that can make someone sick, or, in extreme cases, become fatal.

At Tropicana Field — home of the Tampa Bay Rays — every one of the stadium’s 47 food and drink outlets inspected incurred a critical violation during inspections within the past year, according to Florida inspection reports. Violations include food residue in a cooler, toxic chemicals stored too close to food preparation areas, “slime” in the ice machines and thermometers not readily visible to measure the temperature of hot foods.

The interactive guide reveals that all of Florida’s stadiums have  had infractions against them. However:

Other industry representatives said that inspection reports can exaggerate threats, pointing out that minor lapses in a rule — such as a temperature gauge not being properly calibrated or a precooked hot dog a few degrees cooler than it should be — can result in a critical violation that really doesn’t pose a risk to consumers.

If you are somewhat cheap like me and do not prefer $7 hot dogs, this doesn’t bother you much. But this raises the philosophical question of whether or not most people want to know about this. Do you just want to go to the new Cowboys stadium for a football game and eat your hotdog in peace? Or do you care that your hotdog may of been heated at a 71 degree level, nearly half of the 135 degree base that it should be held at?

In the end, I feel that the food at the stadiums, other than maybe some peanuts or a $5 bottle of water, hold little nutritional value and are a risk in and of themselves. Now knowing that there may be mice droppings in food prep areas of slime build up in frozen drink machines makes me even more want to pack some food of my own or watch the game on TV.

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