Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
ESPN’s Outside The Lines released data Thursday regarding food safety violations in the 111 major professional sports venues in North America.
According to ESPN.com’s Paula Lavigne, 16,900 routine inspections were conducted at the venues in 2016 and 2017, resulting in 28 percent of them incurring a high-level violation at half or more of their food stands.
Lavigne noted that a high-level violation is one that “poses a potential threat for foodborne illness.”
Per the data, the Charlotte Hornets’ Spectrum Center had the highest percentage of food vendors with a high-level violation at 92 percent.
That included specific violations such as beer leaking from the ceiling at a bar in the venue and a bartender using their hands to handle garnishes in 2016.
Other venues with a violation rate over 80 percent are the now-closed Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit Pistons, 86.11 percent), American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, 83.08 percent), Bank of America Stadium (Carolina Panthers, 82.61 percent) and Broncos Stadium at Mile High (Denver Broncos, 80.43 percent).
Per Lavigne and Sandra Fish, some of the most egregious violations occurred at the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field, which ranked 99th on the list with violations at 71.96 percent of its vendors.
The report noted that a commercial-size bag of Cracker Jacks was found to have a mouse inside of it in 2016. Also, cockroaches and mouse droppings were found on or near food at the ballpark.
Patricia Buck, the co-founder and executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, made mention of the fact that the number of patrons at a sporting event means food safety is of the utmost importance: “There will be thousands of people at the stadium and there will be maybe 100 at a restaurant, so the sheer number of people being exposed is going to be higher, so it would tend to be riskier if something like contaminated romaine lettuce was going to be served on a taco.”
The lowest percentage belongs to the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena at just 1.12 percent, which is nearly three percentage points better than the 4.17 percent of high-level violations that occurred at the second-place State Farm Arena of the Atlanta Hawks.
Other venues that fared relatively well in the investigation include the Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium (4.44 percent), the now-closed former home of the Milwaukee Bucks in the Bradley Center (6.67 percent) and the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium (7.33 percent).
Of the 111 venues, four did not have enough vendor data to be included in the report. They are the Washington Capitals’ and Washington Wizards’ Capital One Arena, the Houston Rockets’ Toyota Center, the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre.