They can't even get it right off the field...Team 4: PNC Park Food Vendor Inspection Reports
Paul Van Osdol Looks At County Health Department's Findings
POSTED: 5:03 pm EDT July 2, 2009
PITTSBURGH -- Flies, mouse droppings, mold -- not what you'd expect to see during a trip to the concession stand at a ballgame, but that's what Team 4 found in a review of inspection reports at PNC Park.
The following report by Team 4 investigator Paul Van Osdol first aired July 2, 2009, on WTAE Channel 4 Action News at 5 p.m.
Nearly every vendor had at least one critical violation in the past two years. That's a violation that could make you sick.
But those are just the vendors that were inspected. We found a significant number of vendors that the Allegheny County Health Department failed to inspect.
A day at the ballpark just isn't the same without a juicy hot dog, a basket of nachos or a cool ice cream cone, but Team 4's review of two years' worth of health department inspection reports reveals some unappetizing findings.
An inspection of the Aramark kitchen in May 2008 found "mouse droppings throughout" the kitchen and storage area. A follow-up inspection in June 2008 found not only more "mouse droppings" but a "dead mouse." Another inspection the next month revealed "droppings still remain."
Van Osdol: "What does that tell you if you see that?"
Dr. Bruce Dixon, director, county health department: "It tells you their sanitation isn't very good."
Four other vendors had problems with fruit flies, including the Lexus Club premium seating area right behind home plate. A July 2007 inspection found "numerous fruit flies spotted in the kitchen."
Dixon: "They land on fecal material. They land on other things where they can get nutrients. They get this on their feet, they get it on their legs and then they land on your food product. Now you have bacteria on there.>
Ten of the 43 vendors at PNC Park were cited at least once for having "mold in the ice machine."
Dixon: "If you do have certain conditions where your immune system isn't working perfectly, normally you can get fungal infections from that that can be quite serious."
Other violations include hot food -- like salmon -- that's too cold; cold food -- including cheese -- that was too warm; employees failing to wash hands; and cross-contamination, including raw chicken sitting on french fries.
Overall, 41 of the 43 vendors at PNC Park had at least one critical violation in the past two years.
For some Pirate fans, our findings were hard to swallow.
Fan: "They need to get real and treat the fans the way they should be treated, because the fans are paying their hard-earned money for the food and the drink, and the Pirates aren't that good of a team anyway. You know what I mean?"
Van Osdol: "Flies, mouse droppings, mold in the ice machines."
Fan: "You got to be kidding me."
Van Osdol: "That's what the reports say."
Fan: "That's bad news."
Joel Saesen, Waynesburg: "It's uncalled for. If you have more than one or two, they need to go somewhere else and bring in somebody who's obviously going to comply with all your state and federal regulations."
Two companies -- Aramark and Levy Restaurants -- oversee all the vendors at PNC Park. Both companies declined Team 4's request for an interview.
In a prepared statement, Aramark said it takes all violations and suggestions very seriously and it takes immediate, corrective action to address the issues when they occur.
Levy Restaurants says it values inspections to ensure their operations are delivering safe experiences, and they take immediate action to address and correct any suggestions for improvement.
Allegheny County is supposed to inspect food vendors every year, but our investigation found that last year, the county failed to inspect nearly a quarter of all the vendors here at PNC Park.
Ten of the 43 vendors were not inspected. Among them -- Beers of the Burgh, Big Dawgs and Federal Street Grille in Section 332.
Van Osdol: "Shouldn't those vendors be inspected at some point?"
Dixon: "They should."
Fans we talked to were outraged that they weren't.
Kari Mariner, Canonsburg: "I want to know. Why are they not being inspected? It's our safety and our health they're putting in jeopardy."
A health department spokesman said not all the vendors were open on the date inspectors went to PNC Park last year. Dixon said that's not a good excuse.
Dixon: "Our primary mission is to make sure things are done in a safe, wholesome fashion for the citizens. I don't really want to hear from our own staff that somebody wasn't open at that time. Then go when they're open."
Inspections or not, there are some things you can do to make sure the food you're getting at the ballpark is safe.
Make sure the vendor has a permit. You should see a green Allegheny County decal.
Check to see if people preparing food are using proper tools and washing their hands periodically.
Check the temperature of your food to make sure it's appropriately hot or cold.
Dixon says all vendors at PNC Park will be inspected this year. We'll be checking.http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/1...152/detail.html