2 Investigators: City Toughening Food Inspections At Stadiums

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Hot dogs, Italian sausage and pizza are half the fun of going to the ball park.  But if that food isn’t prepared properly, it could make you sick.

Last year, 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reported on how the city’s health department only checked stadium food on non-game days. Now, things are changing.

Recent inspection reports from Wrigley Field show that out of 35 concessions, inspectors found 20 critical violations at nine booths. Three of those failed their inspection and were shut down. 

The health department used to do inspections on off days when ballparks and arenas were empty.  Now they do them on event days when kitchens are open and people are actually ordering food.

“It’s extremely important because it is while the concession stand is working and serving customers that all the rules about food safety, food handling, are even more important,” said food safety expert Kantha Shelke, who walked the food concession areas at Wrigley with Zekman.

The Italian Hot Spot had failed its city inspection for improper hand-washing and for not keeping the Italian sausages hot enough.

“One hundred forty degrees is a magical number when you talk about food safety because that’s the temperature at which bacteria are killed,” Shelke said.

At the Cub House, more food was found below the safe temperature mark and city inspectors found black slime in the ice machine. 

Most of the violations cited in the inspection seemed to have been fixed when CBS 2 visited, but there was a problem at The Cub House, according to Shelke.

A cashier “was using bare hands to handle money and then ice intermittently,” she said. “Money is loaded with germs so that was a problem.”

According to the city inspection results, more than 24 pounds of hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers  had to be thrown out from five different concession areas.

Dr. Bechara Choucair, Chicago’s city health commissioner, said this is just the beginning of improved inspections.

“We just started with Wrigley Field a few weeks ago, and we’re going to start with the rest of the stadiums as well,” he told Zekman.

All will get surprise inspections, he said.

A spokeswoman for Levy Restaurants, which runs the Wrigley concessions, said the company takes the safety and well being of its customers very seriously and violations were addressed promptly. 

She also said training staff on proper procedures and food handling techniques is a company priority.

More from Pam Zekman
  • PamZekmanLieDetector

    If the city actually cared about the consumer they would have been doing this years ago. This is a straight money grab by the city that will backfire when they start seeing restaurants and other establishments close down. To say that the health department and the city have the health of the consumer in mind is at the very best disingenuous. They have their jobs and filling the cash coffers as a priority under the guise of being concerned about citizens. Zekman will fall for anything.

  • zackmanreally?

    You can walk into any restaurant and find something wrong. So now this. Wow the.city.really.is.racing money by attacking these venues. I am a season ticket holder and did.not see any stands closed. In a place this big only 20 citations.

  • Chicago Sports Fan

    Good one, Rahm.

  • Fred Karger

    According to Michele Bachmann and other teabaggers, we need to get rid of job-killing regulations.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com/2011/09/10/the-cubs-need-more-dogs-and-other-bullets/ The Cubs Need More Dogs and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] you needed an investigative report to tell you that the food at concessions at places like Wrigley Field isn’t always prepared […]

  • http://larrybrownsports.com/baseball/wrigley-field-concession-stands-had-pretty-nasty-food-conditions/86444 Wrigley Field Concession Stands Had Pretty Nasty Food Conditions | Larry Brown Sports

    […] recent inspection report from Wrigley Field showed that 20 critical violations were found at nine of the 35 concessions stands. Many of the […]

  • RoyK

    Wait, so just because the city is using this to raise funds, you don’t agree with the results? You would rather these establishments continue to serve unsafe food? You would rather that restaurants that don’t fix the violations stay open rather than close down? As the first commenter said, the city should have been doing this long ago. Now you are criticizing them for doing what you admit they should be doing??

    If you have ever experienced food poisoning… you would be all for these inspections.

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