Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is it “Safe” to Eat MLB Ballpark Food?

The title says it all, is ballpark food safe to eat? Now before you immediately click off the post and write me off as someone who is going to talk to you about clean foods, organic choices and healthy living rest assured that I am not. While I enjoy those foods as well I am under no illusions of what I am getting when I step into a ballpark and order a hot dog and a beer. What I and many don’t know is what is going into the preparation of this food before I order and consume it. Local health departments and such are required to do food inspections of these ballparks and Sports Illustrated compiled all the data into one convenient post for all to see. Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, are not on the list after public records requests were unfulfilled before the post went live leaving them off the list. Are you wondering how Yankee Stadium did? I was too so here is the write-up from the SI post.

We will start with the best ballpark to eat at, Safeco Field home of the Seattle Mariners:


Total violations: 5 | Critical violations: 1
Ballpark Food Safety Rating: .08 | Entities inspected: 72 
Seattle set the league standard, and it wasn’t close. The lone critical violation was for food held at an improper temperature. Two minor violations were cited for utensils stored improperly. We went back to each stand’s 2016 inspection to see if this year was an outlier. Last year's results were worse overall—17 total violations, eight of which were critical—but would've still snagged first place in our rankings. Congrats, Mariners fans. Enjoy your grasshoppers with peace of mind.

We can continue with the home of the New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium:


Total violations: 57 | Critical violations: 24
Ballpark Food Safety Rating: 2.19 | Entities inspected: 37
Yankee Stadium led the league with critical violations (62% of its stands), and an infestation of flies highlighted the inspections from late July in the Bronx. Inspectors handed out citations at over a dozen food entities around the ballpark for observation of flies and improper vermin-proofing. The city doesn’t give detailed observations in its reports, but nearly a quarter of the stadium’s violations came from improper maintenance for non-food surfaces. Last year, even without a fly problem, Yankee Stadium would have finished in the same spot in our rankings. The ballpark had fewer overall violations but more that were critical, mostly from the restaurants and suites.

The team that got the lowest score and the most critical citations was the Tampa Bay Rays and their home stadium, Tropicana Field. I shudder at the thought of me eating at Tropicana Field now. Thanks, SI:


Total violations: 241 | Critical violations: 105
Ballpark Food Safety Rating: 5.58 | Entities inspected: 62
With a staggering 105 critical violations in 2017, Tropicana Field brings up the rear in our rankings. Two food entities (the catering kitchen and the stand outside Section 303) tallied over 20 violations each. Violations ranged from the observed presence of live insects to black mold accumulating inside an ice bin. An employee was observed handling hot dogs and cash without washing hands in between. An ESPN report from seven years ago found that every inspected stand at Tropicana had at least one critical violation. That number has dropped from 100% to about 50%, but the Tampa Bay stadium still leads the way in eye-popping food safety numbers.

A few notable parts of this article that I felt the need to mention are the apparent rat infestation that is going on at Coors Field in Colorado and Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, the apparent broken coolers at PNC Park that were registering 50 degrees Fahrenheit for things like hot dogs and cheese, mold on the ice machines at Miller Park and expired food that was being served to the fans, and a live roach at Globe Life Park in Texas just to name a few. All those can be seen in the article so go check them out.

To see the rest of the rankings and what the health inspectors had to say head over to Sports Illustrated and check out their post. It’s a long read but it’s definitely a good read. I’m still going to order these monstrosities and my hot dogs and beer but at least I can’t say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into that like person who didn’t know their coffee would be hot from McDonald’s that one time. Pot shot, sorry. Not sorry. Enjoy the rest of your day, the game here in a few hours and your dinner from the ballpark if you’re headed out that way. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)