Before you fork over $5 for a hot dog or $7 for beer at your next NFC North game, you might want to check out this "Outside the Lines" report on food service at United States and Canadian concession stands. Below are the relevant 2009 health violations, and frequency of total offenses, at each Black and Blue stadium:
Vendors with critical violations: 12 percent
Inspection report excerpt: Almost all violations were due to a lack of hot water.
Green Bay Packers
Vendors with critical violations: 18 percent
Inspection report excerpt: Two locations were cited after inspectors found an employee who "did not wash hands after blowing nose or eating food prior to handling customer food or ice."
Vendors with critical violations: 70 percent
Inspection report excerpt: Inspectors cited one location 11 times in the past six years after seeing employees who didn't wash their hands. At another stand, they found an employee's half-eaten hamburger in a warming unit.
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Vendors with critical violations: 8 percent
Inspection report excerpt: One location was cited for having sanitizing solution that was too weak. Solutions have to meet a certain concentration considered strong enough to kill harmful microorganisms.
Health violations are a dirty -- and, I would argue, intentional -- secret. Many of us don't want to know what we could be eating. That "many" includes me, and I won't pretend to be a food inspection expert. So we'll give ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne the opportunity to offer an appropriate balance of alarm and context on this issue:
Health inspectors, stadium managers and food service company representatives agree that it is a massive task to serve thousands of burgers, brats, hot dogs, beers, sodas and more-exotic fares nightly at venues of all types. The pressure to serve so much food fast -- food that's often prepared by part-time workers in cramped conditions -- leads some food safety experts to believe that the risk to consumers calls for more oversight and more frequent inspections, even though no mass foodborne illness outbreak has occurred from food served at a professional stadium.
A food service manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity over fears he would lose his job, discusses what he has seen on the job.