FOUL BALLS: Ranking The Worst Food Safety Violations At Major League Baseball Stadiums

ballpark hot dog baseball

Photo: Eric Molina/Flickr

Stadium concessions are a huge part of the business of sports as franchises clean up on the high profit margins and lack of competition.$7.50 for one hot dog? What choice do you have? (Pretty tasty, though.)

For those kinds of prices, fans would expect the highest quality from their food preparers, but things are not always what they seem. It’s a tall order to feed 52,000 people in a single night and keep the the kitchen spic and span. Most MLB ballparks can’t (totally) pull it off.

So we looked up the public food inspection records for every Major League Baseball stadium to see who’s the best — and worst — at keep your food clean.

A few notes on methodology:

The violations are labelled as either critical or minor violations from the 2010 season. There is some difficulty comparing different ballparks, as each city, county, or state system for restaurant inspections, and the same violation can mean different things in different places.

For example, having an employee drink cup without a lid in a food preparation area was critical violation in Philadelphia, but a minor violation in St. Petersburg. In some cases, municipalities don't list certain kinds of violations. Los Angeles and Anaheim list their minor violations individually, but Los Angeles only lists the general issue whereas, Anaheim gets into more explicit detail.

Both Chicago ballparks were not included on this list, since Chicago does their park fare inspections only when there is a complaint. Minnesota's Target Field, Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Detroit's Comerica Park also aren't included, since there was not enough information available about those three parks.

Rogers centre -- No Violations

The Toronto Blue Jays are the only major league baseball stadium on the list that received no violations last season.

Source: City of Toronto

Progressive Field -- No Critical Violations

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Minor Violations: 8

Highlighted Violations: There was some pooling of water in a cooler, and a few very small issues with the building itself.

Source: Cleveland Dept. of Public Health

Turner Field -- No Critical Violations

Location: Atlanta, GA

Minor Violations: 77 points docked (Most having to do with the building itself, e.g. lights too dim.)

Highlighted Violations

Non food related surfaces were dirty.

Not all the proper posters and permits were up in the main kitchen.

Source: Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness

The Ball Park In Arlington -- No Critical Violations

Location: Arlington, Texas

Violations:

The city of Arlington gives all individual concession stands scores. A score of 0 is the best possible grade a stand can get, and 22 of the concession stands in The Ballpark In Arlington had perfect scores. No stand scored worse than a 12 which itself is considered slightly above average.

A total of 12 concession stands in the home of the Rangers had violations against it. The exact violations are not detailed.

Source: City of Arlington

Fenway Park -- 1 Critical Violation

Location: Boston, MA

Minor Violations: 3

Highlighted Violations:

Encrustments found inside the ice machine.

Employees neglecting to clean and sanitize at least one can opener blade.

Source: City of Boston

Petco Park -- 2 Critical Violations

Location: San Diego, CA

Minor Violations: A few, but there's no indication as to how many, or what they were.

Highlighted Violations:

One citation for keeping prepared foods at the wrong temperature.

Improper uses of food storage.

Source: City of San Diego

PNC Park -- 3 Critical Violations

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Minor Violations: 11

Highlighted Violations

No soap at hand wash stations.

Raw meat stored at 54 degrees.

Cheese and hot dogs stored between 45-49 degrees.

Source: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture

Dodger Stadium -- 4 Critical Violations

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Minor Violations: 100+

Highlighted Violations:

Two separate occasions of liquid, pasteurized eggs being held in an unsafe temperature range.

Nearly every concession stand got demerits for general uncleanliness.

Source: County of Los Angeles-Public Health

Minute Maid Park -- 8 Critical Violations

Location: Houston, TX

Minor Violations: 33 Minor

Highlighted Violations:

Various issues with ice machine cleanliness.

A few instances of employees storing clothing in unwelcome areas.

A water fountain was found in excessive disrepair.

A salad bar did not have a sneeze guard or have the food stored at the right temperatures.

Source: City of Houston

AT&T Park -- 8 Critical Violations

Location: San Francisco, CA

Minor Violations: 117

Highlighted Violations:

Hot dogs kept below the required legal holding temperatures.

Food contact surfaces were not cleaned.

Evidence of either roaches, rodents, or flies (unclear as to which).

Hands of at least one employee not washed or gloved when handling food.

Source: San Francisco Dept. of Public Health

Nationals Park -- 18 Critical Violations

Location: Washington D.C.

Minor Violations: 24

Highlighted Violations:

Brown spots and rust were found on at least two ice machines.

Fruit flies were discovered by a soda fountain, and one inspector believed that some fruit flies possibly got into the syrup hoses.

A dead mouse was found near a few bags of potato chips. Rodent droppings were found outside of a cooler as well.

Some undercooked meats were stored in a fridge with raw meats.

Source: DC Dept. of Health

Sun Life Stadium -- 23 Critical Violations

Location: Miami, FL

Minor Violations: 3 (Violations at Sun Life Stadium only counted if the inspections took place during the baseball season)

Highlighted Violations:

Many sinks did not have hot running water

Spray bottles containing hazardous material were not properly labelled.

Inspectors observed 20 plus flying insects by the soda machine.

There were cups of beer (without any sort of lid) stored near the employee drink station.

Source: Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulation

Busch Stadium -- 29 Critical Violations

Location: St. Louis, MO

Minor Violations: 74

Highlighted Violations

Taco meat was improperly heated in such a manner that would welcome rapid bacterial growth.

Another plate of taco meat was being held at 68 degrees.

Hot dogs held at 92 degrees.

Chicken salad held somewhere between 63 and 67 degrees.

Source: City of St. Louis Department of Health

Yankee Stadium -- 32 Critical Violations

Location: The Bronx, NY

Minor Violations: 32

Highlighted Violations:

Food was subject to contamination and cross-contamination.

'Filth flies' found in food preparation areas.

Several stands missing appropriate hand washing facilities.

Food products stored in dented cans.

Multiple signs of 'vermin.'

Source: NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene

Coors Field -- 33 Critical Violations

Location: Denver, CO

Minor Violations: 18

Highlighted Violations:

Sour cream, salsa, chives, blue cheese, eggs and various salad ingredients were held between 52 and 64 degrees.

One employee was seen picking up material off the ground while wearing gloves and then continued to handle prepared food without changing the gloves.

Red slime found in an ice machine.

Hot dogs and hamburgers held between 112 and 118 degrees.

Source: Denver Dept. of Environmental Health

Angel Stadium -- 33 Critical Violations

Location: Anaheim, CA

Minor Violations: 365

Highlighted Violations:

A pepperoni pizza had an internal temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

A cooked chicken was sitting outside of a holding container for at least seven hours, and had an internal temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

An employee was observed eating ice directly out of the ice machine.

Fruit flies found in two bottles of liquor.

A dirty bag of ice that had melted was placed in the ice machine to refreeze right on top of the clean ice.

Source: Orange County Health Care Agency

SAFECO Field -- 34 Critical Violations

Location: Seattle, WA

Minor Violations: 35

Highlighted Violations:

Many instances of improper food holding temperatures.

Some employees used improper hand washing techniques.

Prepared food was handled via bare hand.

At least two examples of hand washing stations not being up to code.

Source: Public Health Seattle and King County

Citizens Bank Park -- 34 Critical Violations

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Minor Violations: 89

Highlighted Violations:

Dairy based sandwich sauce held at 46.8 degrees.

Many instances of perishable food being stored in malfunctioning refrigerators.

No soap or hand sanitizer at hand washing station.

Employees were preparing to sell food that was previously held in dented cans.

A prepared chicken and bacon sandwich was being held at 88 degrees, well below the required 135.

Source: City of Philadelphia

Citi Field -- 36 Critical Violations

Location: Queens, NY

Minor Violations: 50

Highlighted Violations:

One food worker was spotted handling prepared food without using protective gloves or tongs.

'Filth flies' found in food preparation areas.

Evidence of live mice in at least three locations.

Cleanliness of the employees was noted as 'inadequate.'

Source: NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene

Great American Ballpark -- 36 Critical Violations

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Minor Violations: 92

Highlighted Violations:

Cook was observed handling raw beef patties and subsequently handling ready to eat foods.

Shrimp were being de-thawed in a dish washing sink when inspectors visited.

Tea spigots were coated with slime.

Employees were seen cutting lemons with their bare hands.

Hot dogs held at 78 degrees.

Source: City of Cincinnati Health Dept.

Miller Park -- 39 Violations

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Total Number of Violations: 39 (No distinction made between minor and critical violations).

Highlighted Violations:

Hot dogs held at 118 degrees.

Sink drainboard used for portioning out sauerkraut.

Ice cream not protected with a sneeze guard.

Several bins of sanitizer solution were far too weak.

A tray of pretzels was stored in a hand wash sink directly under the faucet.

mould build up found in ice machine.

Source: City of Milwaukee Health Dept.

Oakland Almeda-County Stadium -- 40 Critical Violations

Location: Oakland, CA

Minor Violations: 158

Highlighted Violations:

Employees were not properly sanitizing food prep surfaces or utensils.

One violation indications the stadium was not kept free of either rodents,cockroaches, or flies, but fails to indicate if it was just one of those pests or any combination of the three.

Hot and cold water pressure was too low.

Employees often noted as not washing their hands enough or correctly.

Source: Almeda County Environmental Health

Chase Field -- 54 Critical Violations

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Minor Violations: 59

Highlighted Violations:

Live roach found in a food service area

Rodent droppings found throughout the ballpark

Prepared grilled chicken cooling at 48 degrees

Microwave was caked with food debris

mould accumulation on the ice machines

Source: Maricopa County

Kaufman Stadium -- 100 Critical Violations

Location: Kansas City, MO

Minor Violations: 117

Highlighted Violations:

A few hand washing sinks did not offer hot water

Chicken fingers well under required temperatures

Food stored in 'soiled' boxes

Customer drink trays were stored on the floor right before they were sold to customers

No sneeze shield at the dessert bar and at a salad bar

Inspectors observed 23 bags of Cracker Jack that ranged from being a few weeks to a few months past expiration date

A bottle of deli slicer oil was found spilled into a drawer filled with utensils

Source: City of Kansas City

Tropicana Field -- 217 Critical Violations

Location: St. Petersburg, FL

Minor Violations: 112

Highlighted Violations:

Various raw animal based products stored not properly separated from one another.

Same pair of tongs used to handle two different animal products.

Build up of slime and soil on the interior of several ice machines.

An employee handling food had fingernails that were long enough to prevent the proper wearing of protective gloves.

Steak thawing at room temperature.

Employees were seen handling money and also handling food without changing gloves.

A prepared shrimp sandwich was being held at 82 degrees.

Source: Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulation

But don't let that stop you from giving these teams your money...

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