Before you go chomping down on that hotdog or taking a swig of cola from your stadium cup holder, you might want to consider the following. ESPN, the cable sports network has reviewed inspection reports of the health department for 107 stadiums in North America and also arenas at which many sporting events of major leagues were held and found some obnoxious things. As many as 30% of those venues had more than half of their beverage and food vendors receiving citations due to major violations of standards set for handling of food. The serious violations referred in those reports include serving food at temperatures that could encourage the growth of pathogens, cross contaminating the food by using the same equipment e.g. to cut both chicken and tomatoes, equipment not sufficient enough to maintain proper temperatures required to store food, bad hygiene including such instances as employees not washing hands after using restrooms and presence of rodents and insects in places where they could possibly contaminate the food or the place.
There hasn’t been any outbreak of an illness that is widespread and can be associated with a particular arena or sporting stadium’s food and beverage. This is at least as far as the documentation goes. However, according to the reports of ESPN, there have been instances where people have fallen ill due to food at a sporting arena. There are many difficulties however, in tracing the sources and finding out what exactly led them to falling ill especially when there are so many people from so many different parts of the city or the town. The other challenge in finding out if an illness or outbreak was indeed because by the food at a stadium is that many of the illnesses born out of food poisoning or contamination do not show up for some time after digestion and it might take more time before it breaks out making it all the more difficult to trace the source of the infection to the contaminated food eaten at a stadium or sporting arena.
In terms of food safety statistics, the M & T Stadium hosting Baltimore Ravens’ games is a safer bet with just 4% food vendors receiving citations compared to the FedEx field hosting the Redskins game where as many as 36% vendors have received citations. A Wizards or Capitals game at the Verizon center is the worst and you are better off having food elsewhere before you go, given that 100% vendors here have received citations. Henceforth, you might be safe than sorry about the food that you receive at stadiums, so bring a drink from home for your drink holder.