Top 10 Disgusting Stadium Food Vendor Health Violations

ESPN has put together a report on stadium food vendor health violations. Some of the violations are pretty damn gross. We’ve picked 10 of our “favorites.”

These violations are in no particular order. Enjoy.

Are you sure those are strawberry seeds?
Sun Life Stadium (Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins)
Vendors with critical violations: 93%
Inspection report excerpt: 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.

Hey, I don’t sell that, I wasn’t finished eating it…
Ford Field (Detroit Lions)
Vendors with critical violations: 70%
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors cited one location 11 times in the past six years after seeing employees who didn’t wash their hands. At another stand, they found an employee’s half-eaten hamburger in a warming unit.

This spoon is glowing…
Joe Louis Arena (Detroit Red Wings)
Vendors with critical violations: 52%
Inspection report excerpt: Poisonous or toxic materials were stored atop items used to serve customers, posing a potential risk of contamination. Inspectors also found roaches below a soda dispenser at one location.

Mom, my sundae smells funny…

Izod Center (New Jersey Nets)
Vendors with critical violations: 20%
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors found a seemingly spoiled and “odorous” can of cherry ice cream topping that had been left opened and uncovered in an unrefrigerated storage cabinet.

Put the fridge on the DL.
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.

Do I really need to wash the raw chicken bowls?
RBC Center (Carolina Hurricanes)
Vendors with critical violations: 67%
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors cited one vendor after watching employees handle raw, breaded chicken while loading fryers and then handling cooked food without changing gloves or washing hands. The employees placed cooked chicken back in the same container used to pre-portion raw chicken before cooking.

Sorry, we only have one spatula…
Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds)
Vendors with critical violations: 40%
Inspection report excerpt: 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.

Don’t step on him, he’s got season tickets…

Mellon Arena (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Vendors with critical violations: 55%
Inspection report excerpt: In one of the arena’s higher-end clubs, inspectors found a live cockroach on top of a soda dispenser holster behind the bar.

Drip, drip, drip…
PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Vendors with critical violations: 53%
Inspection report excerpt: At one location with seven critical violations, inspectors found raw chicken and beef stored above bread, and found restrooms without any hot water.

Delicious expired hotdogs!
AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs)
Vendors with critical violations: 48%
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors found 18 pounds of hot dogs that had expired more than 10 days prior.

Honestly, it was hard to constrain ourselves to just 10. Ew. We apologize if we didn’t pick your team’s stadium as one of the grossest.

Vendor inspection reports [ESPN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Yuck. Some of these are just TOO gross.

    And now its lunchtime.

  2. Kris with a K says:

    Great! Two of the stadiums I go to are on this list. *Blech!*

    • sonneillon says:

      Damnit DC

      Verizon Center
      Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals
      Vendors with critical violations: 100%

      All of the vendors are violators. Apparently they don’t even give a f*ck about health inspections.

    • Enduro says:

      Me too. Are you in Detroit? The concession workers, selection and apparently sanitation are the worst (except the Palace which is 45 minutes from downtown).

      I think there is no excuse for a football stadium like Ford Field to be on this list. They only host 10 games a year. Plenty of time for thorough cleaning! Good thing I boycotted their concessions after a 12 oz beer and a “supreme nacho” (cheese AND salsa!) cost me nearly 20 bucks.

  3. Smashville says:

    “Don’t step on him, he’s got season tickets…”

    I presume this is some sort of attendance joke which makes no sense, considering that the Penguins have sold out every home game since the end of the 2006-2007 season.

    • Limewater says:

      I think the joke was that the cockroach had season tickets, since he was found in a high-end club.

      • Smashville says:

        I’m overprotective of hockey.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          {Smashville throws down the gloves and prepares to kick someone’s ass}

        • failurate says:

          You need to be. Your season is too long and too many of your teams make it into the post season… so yeah, long pointless season. It is seriously like a 10 month season (pre-season games start in Sept, playoffs end in late June).
          And warm weather teams? Absurd!

          • bigTrue says:

            Dude, I live in Detroit, lo0ve hockey and the Wings and still agree with you. It’s gotten to the point that unless I’m in a bar with a regular season game on, I don’t watch the regular season. They need to shorten the season by about 25%, and take out about 25% of the teams in the playoffs. Plus, can we go back to actual fighting in hockey instead of this bastardized/sissified version?

  4. pb5000 says:

    yes, leave it to Detroit to have two of them

  5. perfectly_cromulent says:

    isn’t half the glory of stadium food NOT knowing what goes into it?


  6. PanCake BuTT says:

    This is why I commit my own healthy code violations @ home !

  7. Thaddeus says:

    So if you’re a Lions fan not only do you have to deal with God-awful football, but the food you’re consuming to take your mind of the game could kill you. Also I was unaware the Nets had people to sell food too as no one goes to Nets games.

    • MeCatLikesMeHamSanwich says:

      Hey now. They at least beat my home team … the Red Skins. Honestly, after that loss I wanted to bury myself in my back yard.

      • Thaddeus says:

        My apologies. I really can’t say anything… I’m a Browns fan. That whole not being able to get beer after the 3rd qt? Yeah, that our fault. Sorry. Sorry everyone.

      • apd09 says:

        um… it is Redskins. not sure I have ever seen it written as Red Skins.

        /season ticket holder who sees the name 100’s of times per year.

  8. dijo10 says:

    The show me state comes up pretty clean…….obviously, others have never heard of the concept of “taking care” of the inspectors

    • Caged Wisdom says:

      The only really, truly, 100% sure case of food poisoning I’ve ever gotten came from our minor league ballpark in Springfield, Mo.
      My wife’s family decided to all get tickets to see the Springfield Cardinals as a group for one of their final home games of the season. I am bored to death by baseball but was assured that it was a much more entertaining experience watching a game in person. They lied. But that’s another show…
      Anyway, I bought a bratwurst at one of the concession stands, which was actually a treat for me because I (used to) love bratwurst but the wife hates them, so I never eat them.
      That night, around 4 in the morning, I woke up with the worst case of stomach cramps, vomiting and worse things that I won’t mention in polite company that I have ever experienced in my life. It lasted for about two days and I haven’t touched a bratwurst since. I actually missed work because of it and I work from home.
      When we were telling people about it at the next family gathering, my brother-in-law astutely pointed out that, seeing as it was one of the last games of the season and the ballpark owners are notoriously cheap, there’s a really good chance that the brat I ate had been purchased as part of a large case at the beginning of the season in April..and we were attending a game at the end of August.

  9. Smashville says:

    What is weird, or at least, what goes against what logic would dictate, is that over half of the ones listed here are newer arenas/stadiums. On the surface, it would seem like newer arenas would be cleaner…but I guess it doesn’t really take anytime to turn one into a dump.

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      New Area = Lots of $$ / Less pay to employees, more to the debt = Employees don’t care about health code violations.

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      New Arena = Lots of $$ / Less pay to employees, more to the debt = Employees don’t care about health code violations.

  10. nybiker says:

    The full report shows the results of their review of the inspections. Some joints are only inspected when no one is at the place, so for those places it would be impossible to cite things like ‘failure to wash hands after handling whatever’.
    But as someone against the naming rights habit, it’s a veritable list of who’s who and their respective cohorts that appear to be having problems with sanitation. I wonder if the folks at the johns’ headquarters care that the places that have their names plastered all over them are failing health inspections? Granted, the ones that have minimal issues still are on my list of companies to avoid, but the ones that have really miserable scores, well, I have to wonder how the advertising folks feel about it.

  11. grucifer says:

    Philly’s stadiums have lower percentages than I thought they would. Not too shabby!

    • Dukebruno says:

      When I was in college I had a friend who worked as a beer/soda hawker at Veterans’ Stadium. Don’t know if this is still the case, but back then the vendors essentially were their own businessmen. They purchased a tray of empty cups from the concession company, then went to a spigot where they would fill the cups with beer or soda — then headed out to the crowds. Whatever $ they collected was theirs to keep. The scam at the time was for the hawkers to pick up empty (used) cups off the ground, out of the trash, etc. re-fill them at the spigot and then resell them. Pure profit. Suggestion: Don’t buy from a guy named Charles…or Bob…or Dave. It was a long time ago and I really don’t remember his name. Wait. it was Mike..or Stu…

  12. FatLynn says:

    I love what the report said about Chicago….nothing to see here, move along.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      One step away from “Chicago inspectors check the stadium during the offseason, when no workers are present and no food will be present for another 5 months.”

      One way of getting a great score!

    • The Marionette says:

      Ummm… what?

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      I don’t go to Komisky (yeah, I still call it Komisky… big whoop, wanna fight about it?) all that often, but the prices of the food alone is enough to make me not want to eat it.

  13. veronykah says:

    I worked at a stadium one summer here in SoCal. On top of it being gross, anywhere with portable food/beverages is NEVER clean, I was comforted knowing if I was to be thrown in prison I’d know where I could get a job when I got out.

  14. Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

    What surprises me most about this list is that it is a lot milder in terms of the violations than I would have expected. A few cross-contamination violations, some bugs, not that big of a deal really…pretty much what I would expect inspections to yield at most restaurants, fast food joints, or food stands.

    Besides, it’s not the complete experience without a little food poisoning!

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I agree. I was expecting some nasty stuff.
      And really, these seems like the same kind of stuff on our City’s Health Inspection reviews in the paper. Actually, these are less nasty.

      • drizzt380 says:

        Taking a spatula,scraping it on the edge of the trash can,and then attempting to flip food on the grill with it again……..I have no words.

        • Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

          I believe I saw that happen in an episode of “Hell’s Kitchen.” To quote Ramsey: “YOU’LL KILL SOMEONE!!!”

        • erinpac says:

          That is horrible, but it’s also the actions of one employee. They should be trained better, but still the odds of finding someone careless at a concession stand are likely high anywhere, and with employees changing all the time that guy could be at the ‘good’ stand tomorrow.

  15. A.Mercer says:

    I have worked at a few food places. For the most part they were all on the up and up. A couple of them did some shady things. Spoiled chicken. Wash it off and fry it. No one know the difference. At least that was the philosophy of the management. People could tell the difference. That place is out of business now, luckily.

  16. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Congrats to the vendors of Tropicana Field in FL and the Verizon Center in DC for working so hard to achieve the coveted perfect 100% score!

  17. JoeDawson says:

    I looked at the list… for illinois… 3 of my stadiums had 0% and one had 12% w00h00!

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Yeah, but did you read the part where it said that Chicago inspectors don’t inspect during times when actual food service is going on?

  18. cupcake_ninja says:

    My favorite is the coffin flies in a bottle of cognac at the Pepsi Center. Yum. Nothing like getting flies who prefer dead bodies in with your ridiculously over priced cognac.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Yankee Stadium had a similar situation with a bottle of Chivas Regal and some fruit flies.

      What a waste of perfectly good scotch.

      • caradrake says:

        How does something like this happen? Honestly? Aren’t bottles of alcohol kept closed? How would the flies get in?

  19. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Should hot dogs really have an expiration date?

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Do they? I always thought that hot dogs had enough preservatives that they’d never expire during the average human’s lifetime.

      My son saw me putting packages of hot dogs in the freezer once and ask me why I was doing that. He pointed out the expiration date which was at least a year into the future. My instincts tell me that refrigerated prepared foods should not last that long. Ew.

  20. Kat@Work says:

    Thank GOD (even though I only drink there usually)

    – Minute Maid Park
    Houston Astros
    Vendors with critical violations: 3%
    Inspection report excerpt: One location with a self-service buffet received a critical violation for not having sneeze guards in place.

    • Pibbs says:

      I thought the same thing when I looked at Fenway Park: 4%. Just need to remember to stay away from the Steak.

  21. benderflexo says:

    When I was in college, my fraternity used to work at the RBC Center in Raleigh. I can tell you for a fact that there is close to zero oversight when it comes to the food handling there. Almost all of the stands are run by fundraisers, like fraternities, community groups, etc. We received no training on proper food handling, cleaning, health code, etc.

  22. Big Mama Pain says:

    The “toxic or poisonous chemicals” violation is kind of bullshit. Basically you can’t have cleaning products on the same “level” as food prep/serve areas, which can include squirt bottles of sanitizing solution you use to KEEP the place clean. That is considered a critical violation, too. Health inspection scores neither comfort nor horrify me because they are not even remotely consistent. A filthy restaurant can get a passing score, a clean restaurant can get a critical for absolutely nothing unsafe.

    • consumerfan says:

      The article says the chemicals were above “items used to serve customers”. I don’t know about you but I don’t fancy eating industrial bleach flavored burgers.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Sure, no one does. I am not sure you understood my point or even read my explanation of what the violation means. People automatically assume like you, bleach or rat poison or something like that; and most likely it was a bottle of dish soap on a shelf above a sink, or a bottle of sanitizer on the counter. It’s definitely not 100% food safe, but considering some of the things I’ve seen, this does not rise to the level of “disgusting”.

  23. tbax929 says:

    I refuse to read this post; I just don’t want to know. As an avid baseball fan, I’ve been to at least 20 different MLB parks. The parks I go to the most are Citizens Bank in Philly and Chase Field in Phoenix. Next month I’m seeing my first game at Petco Park in San Diego when my beloved Philles play the Padres.

    I’m hoping none of the above stadiums are listed, but I cannot bear to read it to find out!

    • Smashville says:

      Two words when you go to Petco: fish tacos. Yeah, they have Rubio’s all over San Diego…but there’s something about getting them at the ballpark.

  24. sumocat says:

    There’s not enough information to judge the grilled chicken situation at Citi Field. Was it grilled or heated then then moved to the refrigerator? If so, how long was it in the refrigerator before being checked? If it was raw, then definitely bad, but it was cooked, so there are other variables at play.

  25. GuidedByLemons says:

    Some of this stuff is really gross, but:

    -You can’t seal off a stadium from insects, and roaches will live wherever there are food crumbs (as there certainly will be in a stadium, no matter how often you clean it). Seeing a roach is not really a big deal.

    -10 days expired hot dogs are also not a big deal, provided they’re properly refrigerated. Those things are more preservatives than they are meat.

  26. tsdguy says:

    Didn’t see if this list was cross-referenced by the food contract supplier. Many ballparks are run by Aramark. You have to know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If there are violation that an inspector actually “sees” someone commit, then you know they’ve missed 99% of them.

    It’s also true that sometimes vendor stations are run by community groups earning money. Wonder if that was in the mix?

    Lastly, how about a cross-reference between ball park vendors and airline food vendors?

    • veronykah says:

      You hit the nail on the head. You usually get a little heads up that the inspector is there so if you are caught with some of the above issues, there are probably far more disgusting things happening that they weren’t caught for.
      I wouldn’t trust Aramark, I worked for them in a stadium and it was gross.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        “I wouldn’t trust Aramark, I worked for them in a stadium and it was gross.”

        The working conditions, or the food?

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Aramark handles the food concessions for the Concrete Convertible formerly known as Skydome (aka Rogers Centre.) They got ESPN’s clean bill of health. Guessing they’re better up here.

  27. bhr says:

    M&T and OPCY did pretty well.

    Things like expired hotdogs and syrup don’t really bother me, unless they see someone using it. I know when I worked in a restaurant we only did inventory once every week, so something could be 5-6 days past expiration before it was tossed, but it never would get used since we did a date check on every new package opened.

    Bugs are, as nasty as they are, hard for me to get mad at too. These ARE open air stadiums for the most part, or places that the doors are open constantly, and I wouldnt want them to use pesticides near the food.

  28. Nakko says:

    Anybody ever live in / around Houston, you know all about SLiiIIiIiIiIiIiIIiiiime in the ice-machine!

  29. montusama says:

    “HSBC Arena
    Buffalo Sabres
    Vendors with critical violations: 8%

    Inspection report excerpt: Two critical violations for having a toxic chemical in an unlabeled spray bottle.”

    I worked there for about a month as a busboy, and I asked one of the coworkers how we clean tables. He just used a wet rag, I did eventually find the sanitizer solution but couldn’t find any spray bottles specifically labeled for it.

    • montusama says:

      Oh forgot to mention:
      Before I left I should have called the department of labor and department of health on them.

  30. james says:

    I never eat anything at the new “Citi Field”.
    Instead, I eat at the fine French restaurant built on the site of the older baseball field that they tore down when they built Citi Field. The name of the restaurant is, of course….

    Chez Stadium

  31. HungryGal says:

    “restrooms without any hot water.”

    Is this really a health violation? Hot tap water is not hot enough to kill germs. It does help the soap foam a little better than with cold water, but its really the soap that’s key.

  32. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    All the more reason why not to buy overpriced stadium food. Buy a $7 Vienna Sausage…er…hot dog, stay for the salmonella! Yum yum!

  33. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I took a look at the list, and looked at my home town’s favourite edifice of corporate greed:

    Air Canada Centre
    Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs
    Vendors with critical violations: 0%

    Inspection report excerpt: No critical or major violations.

    Wanna know who manages a few of the city of Toronto’s edifices? I’ll tell you three of them: the Ricoh Coliseum [home of the AHL Toronto Marlies], BMO Field [home of MLS’s Toronto FC] and the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Mediocrity Excellence [practice facility for Leafs and Marlies]. The very owners of Air Canada Centre! Who’s buttering the city’s bread to get a full passing grade? One can only speculate.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Grr! Looks like the strikeout HTML doesn’t work here. “Mediocrity” should have had a strike through it. Oh, by the way, guess who own the Marlies and Toronto FC? Yup, the same MLS&E that own the Air Canada Centre and the Leafs and the Raptors! What a wonderful burg we live in!

  34. PAZ002 says:

    ALRIGHT PITTSBURGH!!! Good thing I hate the pirates and don’t watch hockey, I don’t have to worry about food poisoning or death.

  35. Dallas_shopper says:

    Luckily no Dallas venues are on that list. Doesn’t mean they’re clean…just means they’re not disgusting ENOUGH! Gross.

  36. the_Jenkins says:

    Just glad the Ballpark at Arlington isn’t listed… though, I’m sure they have their fair share.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Err, obviously you didn’t read the article:

      Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
      Texas Rangers
      Vendors with critical violations: 62%

      Inspection report excerpt: One pizza vendor incurred 12 critical violations, mostly for improper food temperatures and for not preventing possible contamination.

      Enjoy your pizza when watching your Rangers lose another one.

  37. Moosehawk says:

    Good thing Mellon Arena is going to be demolished here soon.

  38. skapig says:

    What you have to keep in mind while reading these is that inspection standards can vary greatly between localities and so can the thoroughness of the inspectors.

  39. Capta76 says:

    Thank god… I wouldn’t even touch either of the foods they found violations on for PetCo.
    …Both imply the dreaded mayo

  40. An_Album_Cover says:

    Just give me something crawling with parasites!

  41. mandy_Reeves says:

    First Energy park, lakewood, NJ

    From a temp worker I know who worked there…all kinds of issues with everyone handling money and raw meat and then touching food…bug, roaches etc…

  42. brio says:

    In high school, I was on the dance team. We got a stand at the ballpark that our major league baseball team plays at, so we could earn money. I worked many days during summer games. It was gross. Crickets everywhere! In the ice, all over the floors. I won’t tell you the worst part. . Since, I’m vegetarian, not eating ballpark food doesn’t pose an issue for me. I’d stick with the nacho’s maybe and even that could be risky. We didn’t sell nacho’s at our stand, so I don’t know about that.