Food supplier Aramark responds to ESPN's stadium food safety report

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- A 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.

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"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.

The home of the Houston Astros ranked No. 43 with high-level violations found at nearly 30 percent of outlets. The Texans home-field ranked as the best NFL stadium and No. 3 among all sports organizations. And the Toyota Center, home to the Rockets, was not ranked.

In response to the report, Philadelphia-based Aramark, issued the following statement:

"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."
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