We’ve all been there. You're sitting in a restaurant, waiting for your entrée to arrive, thinking aloud, “I wonder what’s taking so long.” Response from across the table: “You probably don’t want to know.” My response? The heck I don’t!
Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is rat droppings in your chalupa.
ESPN reporter Paula Levigne recently published an article titled "What's Lurking in Your Stadium Food?" that explores the current state of food safety conditions within professional sports stadiums throughout America. The story features an interactive map that allows you to filter stadiums by the percentage of concession stands within that were cited for "critical" or "major" health violations, and then provides a brief summary of the violations with access to the health inspector's full report.
Depending on your experience within the food service industry, the findings may be shocking or they may be expected. 100% of concession stands within select stadiums were cited for critical violations, while 0% were cited in others. You might be inclined to believe that stadiums with higher percentages are careless (if not negligent), while those on the other end of the spectrum offer pristine conditions for hot dog and beer consumption. That's not necessarily the case.
The article explores some of the differences in local inspection rules and procedures that might skew one's perception. "Some states," according to Levigne, "consider mouse droppings a critical violation, while others may classify them as a minor problem." Inspections are also performed under different circumstances. Some will be performed during peak business hours when operations would be more prone to violations, while others are performed when stadiums are empty with no food being served.
The three pro sports stadiums in Chicago were inspected while the stadium was empty. They account for three of the eleven in the nation that reported no critical violations. The article is full of other interesting pieces of insight and can be found at http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=100725/stadiumconcessions.
For restaurateurs and managers of other food service operations, this study serves as a reminder to stay up-to-date on required health codes, and to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring that your business is compliant with all food safety rules and regulations. HACCP & Sanitation in Restaurants and Food Service Operations is an excellent guide to help keep you in the spotlight for your delicious food and excellent service, and out of the spotlight for mouse excreta being found in your prep area.