Maybe You Should Just Brown Bag It

ESPN recently gathered a complete list of health inspection summaries from 2009 for the pro sports ballparks around the US and Canada. The reports are, to put it mildly, nauseating. While my home state of Massachusetts made a decent showing (just 4% of vendors at Fenway Park had critical violations, while none at Gillette Stadium did), other places were much more disgusting.

Take New York, starting with the brand-new Citi Field, home of the Mets:

Citi Field
New York Mets
Vendors with critical violations: 45%
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors found 20 pounds of grilled chicken registered at 70 degrees in a refrigerator, about 30 degrees warmer than allowed.

How does something in a refrigerator get to 70 degrees? That’s room temperature – was the fridge even plugged in?

The Yankees also had a brand-new stadium in 2009, but apparently, it’s being overrun by fruit flies:

Yankee Stadium
New York Yankees
Vendors with critical violations: 48%
Inspection report excerpt: Five hot dogs registered 91 degrees in a hot-holding unit when they were supposed to be no cooler than 140. Inspectors also had a vendor dump a bottle of Chivas Regal whiskey containing dead fruit flies.

Whatever you do, don’t buy food at a stadium in Florida. Of their 8 venues, not a single one had fewer than 67% of vendors with critical violations. The hellhole that is Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, had 100% of vendors with critical violations.

If you’re looking for more to be disgusted about, here’s a sampling of some of the foulest notes:

  • At one bar, inspectors found phorid flies, sometimes called coffin flies, in a bottle of cognac.

  • In one of the arena’s higher-end clubs, inspectors found a live cockroach on top of a soda dispenser holster behind the bar.

  • 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.

  • In June 2009, an employee complained anonymously that small insects and other debris were blended into frozen alcoholic beverages at a stand where equipment wasn’t being cleaned. When inspectors checked, they issued a critical violation for a buildup of slime inside the frozen drinks machine.

Ultimately, even the good news is iffy at best, like this note from Anaheim:

“Most recent inspection reports show improvements on rat-related violations that occurred in prior visits.”

Yes, head on down to Angels Stadium – now with fewer rats!