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ESPN ranks stadium food safety -- Soldier Field doesn't fare well among Chicago venues

Chicago Tribune - 12/13/2018

Dec. 13--Going to a sporting event can carry an inherent risk: You leave happy if your team wins; you leave disappointed if they lose.

Or, according to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" report, you could leave sick.

ESPN reviewed more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports from 2016 and 2017 for the 111 professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey venues in North America. The study found that at "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."

Among Chicago's venues, Soldier Field fared the worst, ranked 91st, with 59.2 percent of high-level violations per inspection. Guaranteed Rate Field was next, ranked 87th, with a 55.8 percent rate. Wrigley Field was 47th at 30.77 percent. The United Center had the best rating in Chicago, ranked 11th, with a 10 percent violation rate.

Overall, the sites with the worth rates were: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. (92 percent); Palace of Auburn Hills near Detroit, since closed, (86.1 percent); American Airlines Center in Dallas, (83.1 percent); and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (82.6 percent).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to ESPN's story, estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne disease each year in the U.S.

In 2017, Sports Illustrated did a similar study of food safety at baseball stadiums. Wrigley Field was ranked 8th safest and Guaranteed Rate was 18th.

And in a 2011 Chicago Tribune story on sports venues and food safety, the Tribune reported that during an inspection of the former U.S. Cellular Field, officials found dozens of violations at more than 30 concession areas. At Wrigley Field, the city discovered multiple instances of "black slime" on ice and workers not washing their hands as they moved between handling food and handling money, records show. Inspectors found 20 critical violations throughout the ballpark, and more than 30 pounds of food worth $215 was tossed.

The city had faced growing scrutiny for its longtime policy of conducting health inspections at stadiums and the Wrigleyville rooftop venues before seasons begin. Both baseball stadiums were inspected in March and April when concessions weren't operating.


(c)2018 the Chicago Tribune

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