Safeco Field concessions ranked safest in Sports Illustrated’s ballpark food safety study

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Sports Illustrated conducted a study of ballpark food safety. Their method: counting up violations from local health department inspections. They only ranked 28 of the 30 parks, however, because the health departments in Detroit and Cleveland did not respond to their request.

The caveats, and there are many, include a couple of things worth keeping in mind: these are the results from the most recent inspection, so any of the violations may already have been remedied. Also: what is deemed a “critical” violation by one city’s health department may not be critical in another city. As SI notes, there are basic federal guidelines which encourage general uniformity, but there may be some (listeria-tainted) apples and (E. coli-infected) oranges comparisons at work here, at least in minor ways. Read the article, obviously, for the full set of conditions for the study.

According to the study, the safest ballpark food can be found in Seattle’s Safeco Field, which only had five total violations, only one of which was deemed “critical.” It wasn’t particularly close, actually, as the second place facility — Fenway Park — racked up 30.

The worst: Tropicana Field which had 241 violations, 105 of which were deemed “critical.” The catering kitchen — which presumably serves the luxury boxes and feeds private parties — and a stand outside Section 303 each had 20 violations.

The Rays and their concessionaire, Centerplate, released statements this morning about the study. Here’s the Rays statement:

“Each aspect of the fan experience is very important to us and that includes food quality and safety. We understand that Centerplate has taken corrective action for all of these violations and will be taking additional steps to ensure food safety. Moving forward, we will be working cooperatively with both Centerplate and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation officials to provide even greater oversight of the nightly concessions operations.”

And Centerplate:

“We take this report very seriously and have already cured each of the violations in the SI article. In addition, we are taking the following steps to ensure food safety at Tropicana Field: in cooperation with the Rays, have an independent food safety inspector conduct an immediate analysis of all concessions operations; designate one additional supervisor on site each night dedicated to food safety; and require all staff to undergo the Centerplate food safety training program, again, this week. We remain committed to providing the highest quality guest experience at each of our venues.”

That’s the sound of some heads rolling, I presume. Here’s hoping they don’t boil the heads down for 12 hours with guarillo peppers, cinnamon, an orange, a vidalia onion, carrots and celery, causing the meat to fall off the bone, creating a succulent stew which can then be served on tortillas with cotija cheese and a charred green garlic remoulade sauce.

Wait, actually, that sounds delicious. Let’s hope they do do that. Although I’d rather have that at one of the Mariners’ concession stands as opposed to one in Tropicana Field.