Slime, cockroaches, mice (some dead, others alive) were just some of the more disgusting food safety violations found in a lengthy, wide-ranging new report on stadium food safety from ESPN.
The reporting analyzed more than 16,000 routine food safety inspection reports from local health departments responsible for 111 North American venues in 2016 and 2017. The venues serve pretty much every major sports franchise, including those in Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball League (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and National Hockey League (NHL). Pro sports concessions is a $2 billion industry, and according to the report, at more than a quarter of the venues included in the analysis, at least half of the food service outlets had one or more high-level food safety violations.
While the violations run the gamut from dirty floors to raw poultry and seafood being stored at temperatures low enough to allow dangerous bacteria to flourish, one alarming part of the report is just how many sports fans are often served in a short period of time in stadiums that host major athletic events. Foodbourne illnesses also tend to be underreported as symptoms of sickness such as food poisoning can mimic other types of illness, such as the flu.
And while living rodents and cockroaches seem like the most alarming and nauseating violations on the rather astounding list of public health issues found through the reporting, some of the top food handling violations are both troublingly commonplace and extremely preventable. The number one issue contributing factor to the spread of foodbourne illness? Improper handwashing.