Dirty Dining: Critical violations found in Tropicana Field, Forum & Raymond James concession stands

TAMPA - Whether it's a home run at a Rays game, a winning touchdown for the Buccaneers, or a hat trick at a Lightning game, they are all reasons to celebrate with good food and drinks at a sports arena.  So the I-Team looked through state inspection reports for 151 concession stands at Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and Tropicana Field, where many love to chow down.

And some fans at a recent Rays game shared with us their concession stand favorites.

"I love their french fries with cheese," said Shery Taylor.  "It's American baseball, man! You've got to have a hot dog at the game," Michael Najuch said emphatically.  Barbara Bukovan said, "I really like their pretzels."  And Pat Roveto admitted, "I'm a hot dog eater."

There are 47 eateries at the Trop in St. Petersburg and in 2012, two had perfect scores.  But over 46% had five or more critical violations.

Some of those included no hot water behind the concession stand, employees using their bare hands on ready-to-eat foods and serious temperature violations, which is a high priority issue when it comes to food safety.

"That's one of the most important things they can do, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  That should be part of their core mission," Diann Worzalla, the Division of Hotels and Restaurants Director told ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

Inspection reports we obtained show those not following that core mission include one of Papa John's Pizza stand locations, where 50 pounds of pepperoni was thrown out in July due to their dangerously warm temperature in the cooler.

At 212 Upper Club Grill, 20 pounds of raw chicken had to be destroyed because of temperatures that could make fans sick.

And 130 pounds of hot dogs and 4 pounds of pork butt were thrown out at Standard Fare concession stand due to more improper temperatures.

"When you have a high count of bacteria on a food product, if it's been allowed to grow, you could have symptoms that could be quite severe, associated with things like salmonella," Worzalla said.

Centerplate, which owns the Trop's concession stands, did not want to go on camera but a spokesperson sent an email which reads, in part, "No issue is more critical than the health and safety of our guests. Whenever issues are identified, our team takes immediate corrective action."  The entire statement can be seen in it's entirety below.

Meanwhile, plenty of concerts rock the house inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Channelside and of its 27 vendors, 17 rocked it with perfect scores on state inspections in 2012.

But over 18% of the Forum's concession stands received five or more critical issues.

And over where the Bucs play at Raymond James Stadium, 17 of their 77 concession stands last year had perfect scores.  

But the flag on the field included 22% with more than five critical violations.

Those problems were found at Two Grid Iron Grill vendor locations with fried chicken tenders raw in the middle and at an improper temperature and hamburger buns with mold.

Mold was also found on the hot dogs at First Down Deli and Dogs.

And M and M Concessions had nowhere for employees to wash their hands, which keeps bacteria from spreading and getting fans sick.

"Hand washing, as basic as it is, it's a high priority item because you can resolve so many problems by doing continuous hand washing," Worzalla explained.

But fans are mixed on how they feel about these critical violations.

Michelle Najuch says it's a real concern. "Yeah, cause I don't want to get sick!"

"I probably won't eat anything else," Troy Wooten said, after hearing about the inspection reports.

But Pat Roveto says it doesn't matter to her at all. "I will go in there and eat like a horse, no matter!"

ARAMARK took over food and beverage services at Raymond James Stadium in March 2013 and their statement is below:

"Food safety is our top priority.  We are committed to excellence in our operations, and we continuously train our managers and employees on proper techniques in food handling and food safety procedures.  We have rigorous processes in place, and we take prompt action to investigate and remedy all concerns."

David Freireich
ARAMARK Communications
Raymond James Stadium


Tampa Bay Times Forum and Delaware North Companies Sportservice's statement:

"We have been working tirelessly since Jeff Vinik bought the Lightning and the leasehold rights to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to create a world class environment for our guests. That includes food service and quality. We appreciate the Delaware North Companies for working with us in this mission and pledge not to waiver from our joint commitment in this area. We acknowledge these minor violations, but are proud of everything accomplished to date and are confident that we can keep improving all facets of our food and beverage operation."

Bill Wickett
Executive Vice President Communications
Tampa Bay Times Forum

Tropicana Field owned by Centerplate sent the following statement:

"No issue is more critical than the health and safety of our guests. Few buildings are inspected as frequently as Tropicana Field, and throughout 153 different health inspections state inspectors found that Centerplate operations achieved the highest rating of "met inspection standards" 98% of the time in 2012 and 100% of the time in 2013; and whenever issues are identified, our team takes immediate corrective action. However, nothing short of perfection is good enough for Rays fans, which is why Centerplate will continue to partner with independent food safety experts to ensure that our guests at Tropicana Field can enjoy their event experience with complete confidence."  

Centerplate spokesperson

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