A day after a Sports Illustrated report found that Tropicana Field had the worst food safety in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays and its concessions partner have both responded with separate statements.
The SI investigation, which used public health inspection records, found that Tropicana Field has totaled 241 violations in 2017, with 105 of those being critical violations. Critical citations are those linked to the spread of foodborne illnesses. The median number at MLB ballparks was 24.
In a statement to local TV station Fox 13, the Rays said:
“Each aspect of the fan experience is very important to us and that includes food quality and safety. We understand that Centerplate has taken corrective action for all of these violations and will be taking additional steps to ensure food safety. Moving forward, we will be working cooperatively with both Centerplate and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation officials to provide even greater oversight of the nightly concessions operations.”
Centerplate, the company that runs concessions operations at Tropicana, also released a statement, with key steps being taken to address the food safety concerns:
“We take this report very seriously and have already cured each of the violations in the SI article. In addition, we are taking the following steps to ensure food safety at Tropicana Field: in cooperation with the Rays, have an independent food safety inspector conduct an immediate analysis of all concessions operations; designate one additional supervisor on site each night dedicated to food safety; and require all staff to undergo the Centerplate food safety training program, again, this week. We remain committed to providing the highest quality guest experience at each of our venues."
Tropicana Field has had food safety issues in the past. An ESPN report from seven years ago found that each inspected food or beverage entity in the ballpark had at least one critical violation. That number has dropped to just over 50%. Some of the violations noted in 2017 were black mold in an ice bin, an employee handling hot dogs and cash without washing hands and presence of rodents and insects.
The ballpark with the best food safety was Safeco Field in Seattle, with just one critical violation. Fenway Park was No. 2 overall.