Mr. Farthing’s hot dogs; no venue could compete

Market Garden. What memories are triggered when you hear those two words? For me, it’s memories of summer, memories of great games, good friends and Gene Farthing’s hot dogs.

I have never been a huge fan of hot dogs, but that’s probably because I’ve never eaten one that compared favorably with what Mr. Farthing produced in the concession stand at Market Garden. I even remember the little Coca-Cola tray Mr. Farthing would give you if you had too much food to carry by hand.

Boy those were the days.

Fast forward to 2018 and Detroit’s Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, and a concession worker videos a fellow worker clearing his sinuses and spitting the results on pizza dough, just before he adds the marinara sauce to cover his despicable act.

The video quickly was placed on social media and as disgusting as it was, it may save others from the evils of concession food.

“Take me out to the ball game,

Hurry back with some snacks,

Got the grilled chicken medium rare,

It sent me to intensive care.

Oh, it’s barf, barf, barf for days now,

Lord, when will this ever end?

For if I ever come back to a game,

I’ll eat before it begins.”

Whether the “special sauce” pizza brought down health inspectors on the stadiums or not, the incident was certainly an eye opener for fans who visit professional sports venues across the country. Fan bases have been made aware that these are not Mr. Farthing’s hot dogs you are eating. The violations are enough to have fans eating elsewhere.

For those of us living in a region where the closest based professional franchises are in Charlotte and Raleigh, the report is not pleasing to fans who like to visit the stadium eateries.

Of all stadiums and arenas across the country, the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, had the highest percentage of violations of any venue in the country. Of the 25 concessions inspected, 23 had health violations, or 92% violation rate.

Here are two of the more damaging violations found at the Spectrum Center:

BAD FOOD PREP

At a couple inspections on March 16, 2016, inspectors noted that throughout the arena “there has been a consistent failure to properly” document when food should be cooked, served or discarded because it was no longer safe to serve. The violation was noted using all capital letters.

BARE HAND ISSUES

Feb. 3, 2016, inspectors saw multiple bartender stations with no options to place cocktail garnishes without touching them by hand. Managers took forks to all stations to use with the garnishes, but inspectors then saw a bartender picking up a lime with a bare hand and putting it in a glass. This was one of four priority violations at the Backcourt Club that day.

Of the 107 venues listed, the Spectrum Center rated dead last. The Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium wasn’t much better, ranking 104.

Although Bank of America Stadium’s percentage of violations was lower than the Spectrum Center, the types of violations may be more alarming to visitors.

MOLDY CREAM CHEESE

On June 16, 2016, in the main kitchen, inspectors found moldy, expired cream cheese along with out-of-date deli turkey and various cheeses, along with a “significant amount of dried food residue” on a slicer from the previous day.

RAW FOOD ISSUE

On Sept. 14, 2016, inspectors found raw beef loin on a shelf over ready-to-eat foods in a walk-in cooler in the main kitchen. Inspectors wrote that blood was getting on shelves and presenting a drip hazard, and they observed trays of food in the walk-in cooler with no cover.

BAD HYGIENE

On Aug. 9, 2017, inspectors “observed employees unaware of when to wash hands” and employees who did not wash their hands before putting on gloves and food preparation. The report noted one employee who was seen handling raw beef and -- with the same gloves on -- touched utensils and food preparation. Another employee lacked a hair restraint.

PNC Arena in Raleigh is home to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. In 2016 and 2017 inspections, health inspectors noted the following violations:

POOLED BLOOD NEAR BURGERS

Inspectors saw partially cooked hamburgers with pooled blood around them in a cooler on Dec. 13, 2016. Such food is required to be fully cooked the first time it is cooked. (But the report noted that the chef was undercooking them based upon a request.)

IMPROPER FOOD TEMPERATURE

Chicken wings cooked six hours before inspection were being held at 67 degrees in a cooler on March 28, 2017. To ensure safety, cooked food must be at 70 degrees within two hours and at 41 degrees within four hours or less. The chicken wings were discarded.

For area baseball fans, Nationals Park in Washington was ranked 81 out of 107. Sun Trust Park in Atlanta ranked 55. Yankee Stadium was the worst rated baseball stadium at 102, while Fenway Park was 26 and Orioles Park was 23. The best rated baseball park was Miller Park in Milwaukee with a rating of seventh.

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