July 19, 2018

Gross Food News Stadium Edition: Mold and Bugs With That Hot Dog?

Mold in the ice machines, cockroaches and mice poop in food preparation areas and blocked handwashing sinks are just some of the food safety violations routinely found at Kansas City’s Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, according to a report on ESPN‘s Outside the Lines. The report is based on information from the food manager of the stadiums, which are homes to the Royals and the Chiefs teams.

Gross Food NeewsJon Costa is the district food safety manager for Aramark, a food service company that contracts with schools, businesses and 30 professional sports teams. The conditions at the stadiums are a “recipe for foodborne illness,” he told ESPN.

Costa said he spent months trying to get Aramark to reprimand employees as he was powerless to do so. He emailed his concerns with photos of food safety violations, including those that took place during the World Series, but it did not prompt any action. So, on November 3, 2014, he contacted the Kansas City Health Department which arrived at Arrowhead Stadium hours after receiving his email.

The Chiefs had played a game at Arrowhead the day before, there were no events scheduled at either facility and the concession stands were closed.  But when health inspectors got there, they found food and garbage at the concessions. There were food safety violations at 20 of the 26 concession stands. Thirty seven of the violations were critical. One inspector told division manager Naser Jouhari that it looked like they just shut off the lights and went home. “The main concern is [inviting] all these insects and rodents to the concession stands so they [could] contaminate food service, food contact areas,” Jouhari told ESPN.

One week after notifying the heath department, Costa contacted local media and ESPN, prompting Aramark to place him on paid administrative leave for violating its media policy, Costa told ESPN.

When contacted by ESPN about Costa’s claims, Tod MacKenzie, senior vice president of communications and public affairs for Aramark provided a lengthy response which said, in part,  “The unsubstantiated claims raised by a disgruntled employee are very troubling, as is his unknown motivation.”

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