Sports Illustrated just released its food safety rankings for Major League Baseball ballparks and Globe Life Park landed toward the bottom.
The reason? “A wide range of violations” found during an inspection in mid-May. Most critical were issues involving holding temperatures, employee hygiene and sanitizer, SI said.
The home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington ranked 20th out of 28, just ahead of Yankee Stadium.
The rankings were based on analyses of thousands of inspection records from public health departments. All but four MLB ballparks had double-digit critical violations in their most recent inspections, the analysts found. Critical violations concern the possible spread of foodborne illnesses, as opposed to violations of broken equipment or evidence of rodents.
But there’s no need for a nationwide panic at the ballpark, the health departments assured SI, or to shy away from your next Fritos Kimchi Chili Dog. Health officials say the time for concern is when there are violations at multiple concessions across the stadium.
At Globe Life, inspectors observed one concession worker using a cellphone and then performing a job without changing gloves or washing hands. Workers at two other concessions didn’t wash hands in between tasks. A live roach was seen at one facility; that concession was ordered to contact pest control.
Globe Life Park was issued 109 violations in mid-May, 43 of them critical. Seventy-eight concession stands were inspected, according to the SI report.
By comparison, No. 1 Safeco Field in Seattle received five violations, one of them critical. No. 28 Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, had 241 violations, 105 of them critical.
The Rangers issued a statement saying that food safety at the stadium is a top priority.
“The Rangers take the safety and well-being of our fans in all aspects of their ballpark experiences very seriously,” said Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president of business operations. “Certainly food service is a large part of that. We work closely with our concessions partner at Sportservice Arlington and are confident in their commitment and the efforts they put forth in providing the highest level of food safety.”
Casey Rapp, the general manager of Sportservice Arlington, said via email that all the inspection issues were corrected. “Our staff was also retrained and is consistently reminded of the proper ways to prepare and handle food, as well as the rules regarding maintaining proper sanitary conditions.
“The ballpark is open air,” he added, “and unfortunately that means we are open to the elements, just like a home when you leave open a door or window.”
Rapp said a pest control company regularly visits the ballpark and is on call if there are problems.
“We are continuously working to improve our scores,” he said.
A similar report by Business Insider in 2011 ranked what was then The Ballpark in Arlington among the top MLB stadiums for food safety. Only 12 concession stands received citations at that time, the report said, none of them critical.
Too, as Business Insider noted: “It’s a tall order to feed 52,000 people in a single night and keep the the kitchen spic and span. Most MLB ballparks can’t (totally) pull it off.”