Aramark responds to ESPN's stadium food safety report

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ESPN report shows food safety violations at stadiums. Tamala Edwards reports during Action News Mornings on December 14, 2018. (Shutterstock)

A local food supplier has responded after a report released by ESPN's Outside the Lines showed a high amount of food safety violations at concession stands at major professional sports venues around the country.

OTL reviewed and collected more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports from 2016 and 2017, from health departments that monitor the 111 professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey facilities across North America.

ESPN's review of the routine inspection reports found that at about 28 percent of the venues, half or more of the food service outlets incurred a high-level violation -- one that poses a potential threat for foodborne illness.

"The venues with the highest percentage of food outlets that incurred one or more high-level violations in the two-year period include Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (92 percent); Palace of Auburn Hills near Detroit, which has since closed, (86.1 percent); American Airlines Center in Dallas, (83.1 percent); and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (82.6 percent)," ESPN says.

Among the three major sports venues in Philadelphia, Citizens Bank Park ranked the worst on the list at 64.

Here's what the report found at CBP:

  • Inspectors witnessed food being prepared on top of a trash receptacle on April 11, 2017. The food was discarded.


  • Employee food, beverages and belongings mingled with food items a concession stand on April 2, 2016, presenting the potential for contamination.


  • At another concession stand on April 2, 2016, there was "pink slime" in the ice maker and hair in an ice bin, as well as mouse droppings on the floor of a cooler where pizzas were stored.


Lincoln Financial Field ranked 54th.

Here's what the report found at the Linc:
  • Dairy products in the owner's suite measured 53 degrees, when they should have been held at 41 degrees or less to prevent spoiling, during an Oct. 21, 2016, inspection.


  • Inspectors found mouse feces on the floor and at wall junctures in a dry storage area on Aug. 24, 2017, and noted that exterior openings did not prevent rodents or insects from entering the concession.


  • Inspectors found mouse feces behind a beer cooler in the service area and behind the ice machine in the food prep area at a concession on Oct. 23, 2016.

The Wells Fargo Center ranked 48th.

Here's what the report found at the Center:

  • Inspectors saw fruit flies in the front serving prep area of a concession on April 29, 2016.


  • Inspectors found mouse droppings in a concession storage area on May 3, 2016.


  • Inspectors saw raw animal food stored above ready-to-eat food in a cooler on Nov. 9, 2017. The ready-to-eat food was thrown out because of possible contamination.


In response to the report, Philadelphia-based Aramark, which is the food supplier for the Linc, CBP, and the Center, issued the following statement to 6abc.com on behalf of the three South Philly venues:

"Food safety is a top priority and fundamental to our business. In addition to working closely with local health departments, our commitment spans a comprehensive approach to training, briefing staff before every event, certified food safety coordinators on-site, regular and frequent audits and quality assurance assessments, and engaging independent auditors to evaluate our practices for an increased level of rigor. Any items noted during an inspection are quickly addressed and corrected. Our industry leading processes and practices ensure the food we serve is great-tasting, high-quality and safe, and we hold ourselves accountable for providing this vital assurance to our customers and consumers."

ESPN's report says a stadium "being slapped with a high-level violation...does not necessarily mean a venue is unsafe or unsanitary."

But Patricia Buck, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, told OTL that stadiums carry "unique risks because of the large number of people being served in a short period of time."

You can read the full report on ESPN.com and use their interactive site to view their research.

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