Stadium Food Doesn’t Always Hit The Mark


Game time at Huntington Park means fans, fun and food.

Popcorn, hotdogs, peanuts, cracker jacks and cotton candy are just some of the options. It's easy to load up and chow down.

Brenda Shamblin ordered $25 worth of nachos and pretzels for her crew, but it turns out indigestion may be the least of their worries.

Food service providers at ballparks, arenas and stadiums are inspected just as restaurants are, and they are held to the same standards.  

Inspection reports from local venues reveal some of the hits, runs and errors.

Critical violations are ones that could make you sick.

They include things like using the same utensils with cooked foods and raw meat at Huntington Park, hotdogs that were not heated to 135 degrees at the Schottenstein Center, and raw eggs placed over ready-to-eat foods at Crew Stadium.

Less critical violations included toxic materials that could contaminate food at Nationwide Arena or insects discovered in the food at Ohio Stadium.

There were lots of cases of employees failing to wash their hands at all of the venues, too.

“You know hand-washing is one of the biggest things that we stress.  So, when we go, we are specifically looking for people to wash their hands,” said Robert Acquista of the Columbus Public Health Department.

Acquista heads up the Columbus Public Health's Food Safety Program.

He says for the most part, every food stand at every venue, gets inspected at least twice a year.

"Most of the companies that are operating these venues are big name companies and they've got a lot at stake.  They don't want to take any chances.  They don't want anything to go wrong,” added Acquista.

But things do go wrong.

Inspections from the past few years show hygiene issues, cross contamination problems, temperature control errors, equipment failures, and rodent and insect infestations.

Health inspectors point out that in many cases, the problems were corrected immediately.  They also say they've never received a complaint from a fan about getting food poisoning from a Columbus sports venue.

"We're pretty lucky with what we have and they do a great job and you know, every once in a while do we have to get on them for this or that?  Sure.  But overall, no, I think they do a pretty good job,” said Acquista.

Alan Lorek would agree.  He says he's never had a reason to worry about food quality while watching games with his grandchildren.

"I would say my experience here has been as good as any restaurant I've been to,” said Lorek.

Brenda Shamblin feels comfortable about what her boys eat at the game won't take them out of the game.

"I guess we feel like an establishment like this probably takes care of all the things that they need to take care of.  They're certified and everything and pass the inspections and so I really don't worry too much about that."

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