ESPN article ranks sports venues by health inspection reports

Posted at 5:12 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 18:46:18-05

Arenas ranked by health inspection violations — ESPN compiled the information in an article released Thursday that shows where the Tampa Bay area’s three main sporting venues stand when it comes to major violations.

Amalie Arena, home of the Lightning, ranked 85 out of 111 venues country-wide. The violations ESPN cited had to do with hand washing, food protection and cross contamination. They say inspectors checked 29 vendors and found high-level violations at 16 of them.

"Inspectors found violations pertaining to food protection, cross-contamination, plumbing, a mop sink, water filters, and back flow prevention at the same location over five different inspection dates, starting with a warning in September 2016, followed by multiple extensions until the location was noted to have come into compliance in January 2017,” the report said.

Folks heading to the game Thursday say the report doesn’t bother them and they plan on eating dinner inside.

"It's a sell out almost every game so to keep up with that is quite difficult as the day goes on as the game goes on,” said Norman Burr. "I don't see a problem, I've never been sick. It doesn't make me happy they weren't washing their hands but again once it was brought to their attention I assume they corrected it.”

Raymond James stadium ranked 70 out of 111 venues. The report cites out of 70 vendors in 2016, 33 had high-level violations. They say it was for things like temperature control of food, cross contamination, poor hygiene practices and more.

The ABC Action News I-team reported even more issues in 2017 like roaches found in several restaurants and cleanliness issues.

"Inspectors issued warnings in connection with 12 inspections across a variety of food-service outlets and dates, for a variety of violations, although only one outlet of those given warnings was noted to have a "high-priority” violation,” the report said.

"To be number one on the list would be great, to be 111th isn't so good,” said Jamie Drysdale, who is also going to the game at Amalie arena.

Tropicana Field was also on the list ranked 49th. ESPN cited data that shows at least 25 high-level violations out of 79 vendors for various food prep issues.

"Inspectors issued a warning and noted six high-priority violations and 16 other violations after the inspection of a concession stand on April 5, 2017. The violations pertained to using approved food sources, food temperature, accuracy of thermometers, proper thawing of food, food protection, cross-contamination, hand washing and other employee hygiene, cleanliness of food surfaces, dish washing facilities, chemicals/toxic substances, and having a valid food management certificate, among others,” the report said.

ABC Action news reached out to the PR folks at Tropicana field via phone and e-mail, they gave us this statement.

Statement from Tropicana

"Food is a meaningful part of the fan experience, and food quality and safety are of paramount importance to us. Beginning in 2018, in partnership with our new concessionaire, Levy Restaurants, Tropicana Field's kitchen facilities were transformed with new equipment, an intensive deep clean by an industry-leading third-party vendor and weekly equipment maintenance. Additionally, we have a full-time Food Safety & Sanitation Manager on staff to work in collaboration with local health inspectors ensuring the highest health and safety practices. We will continue to update our practices and menu offerings, and look forward to serving our fans in the 2019 season.”

We also reached out via phone and e-mail to PR for Raymond James who forwarded us to the food and beverage contractors for the stadium, Aramark.

Statement from Aramark:

“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.”

PR folks at Amalie Arena sent a statement regarding the article, this is their statement.

Statement from Amalie:

"We are aware of the report published today by ESPN regarding health inspections and arena violations. At AMALIE Arena, we pride ourselves on providing a world class environment for all our guests and the food and beverage experience is very important to us – in fact we are confident that we do an excellent job in this area. However, we will take a close look at the report and respond as necessary to any concerns raised therein."