CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people will be headed to the Bears game on Sunday. But, before digging into a Polish or an Italian beef, consider what health inspectors recently found.
After CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reported that inspections never occurred on game days, the city changed its policy and, for the first time, the agency has been inspecting sports venues on game days.
Recently, Chicago health inspectors checked out Soldier Field as part of its new effort to get a more accurate picture of food safety.
The inspection report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that many Soldier Field concessions passed with a condition, that violations get corrected.
In all, inspectors found 21 critical violations that could have potentially made fans sick. They included eight cases of food kept at unsafe temperatures — either not cold enough or hot enough to protect against a food borne illness; three cases of vendors that had broken heating or cooling devices; and several instances of employees not having access to running water, soap or paper towels.
CBS 2 showed the report to Kantha Shelke, an independent food safety consultant.
“If you don’t have sanitizing liquid and water to wash the hands, every food item that is handled is potentially contaminated and has the potential to make someone else sick,” Shelke said.
Health inspectors made concessionaires throw out more than 55 lbs of chicken, sausage and beef that didn’t meet temperature standards.
“It appears that the most significant violation really is the improper temperature, both for hot foods and cold foods,” Shelke said.
Several concessions had multiple critical violations, including the Gridiron Grill #431, the Grandstand #439, the Grill #302, and the second floor Club.
“It’s appalling that food operations at a prestigious family venue like Soldier Field would even do something like this, and have these violations,” Shelke said.
All of the Soldier Field food concessions are operated by Chicago Sportservice, owned by Deleware North Companies.
“Food safety is a top priority,” a company spokesman said in a written statement. “We are proud of our record in serving great food to thousands of fans at Bears games and other events.”
The spokesman said the company makes ongoing investments in equipment and training its staff in proper food safety. “We are diligent in monitoring our staff during games,” he added.
He said company managers worked closely with the city health inspectors to address the violations. A number were corrected “on the spot and all have now been addressed,” he said.
Twenty out of the 57 concessions inspected by the city did not have any violations.
You can see the full inspection report by clicking here.