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ESPN's sickening stadium-food scorecard

I don't want to be a spoilsport. But before you order your next ballgame snack, you might want to read this report on stadium concessions from ESPN.

Then again, you might rather not.

The cable sports network reviewed health department inspection reports for the 107 North American stadiums and arenas at which major league sporting events were held in 2009 and found... well, a lot of yucky stuff.

In short, at 30 percent of those venues, more than half of the food and beverage vendors had received citations for "critical' or "major" violations of food-handling standards. Those serious violations include such things as storing or serving foods at improper temperatures (which can encourage potentially dangerous pathogens to grow), cross-contamination (using a cutting board to chop chicken; then using it to cut tomatoes without cleansing it in between), insufficient equipment to maintain proper food temperature, poor hygiene (employees not washing hands after touching their faces or using the restroom) and the presence of insects or rodents in places where they can contaminate work spaces or food.

If you're about to gag, bear in mind that there has not been a documented outbreak of widespread food-borne illness associated with a sporting arena or stadium. Yet. But the ESPN report cites individual cases in which people believe they've been sickened by stadium food. (Such illnesses can be hard to trace to a source, however, as food-borne illness can take days to set in after the contaminated food is eaten.)

In terms of food safety, you may be better off seeing a Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium, where just 4 percent of vendors had received critical citations, than a Redskins game at FedEx Field, where 36 percent of vendors had received such citations. If you're seeing a Wizards or Capitals game at Verizon Center, you might want to eat before you go: Fully 100 percent of that venue's vendors had received critical citations.

Will this report make you think twice about grabbing a meal at the next big game? Please vote in today's poll and comment freely, below.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Food Safety and Recalls , Nutrition and Fitness  
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I guess I'm lucky on this one. I won't get sick at a sports game, 'cause I can't afford to buy the food there. At a recent baseball game I attended, a bottle of water was $5.00!!!!!!
Most of the food offered is fat-saturated anyway. Adding that to the alcohol so many people 'must have', the heat and the bugs, makes me want to gag.

As long as I'm allowed to do so, I'll continue to take my own snacks and drinks into the stadium.

Posted by: momof20yo | July 31, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

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