Are the hot dogs hot enough? NewsChannel5 Investigators review stadium food safety inspections

CLEVELAND - Whether it’s a baseball game at Progressive Field, a basketball game at the Q, or a football game at First Energy Stadium, grabbing a bite to eat is one of fans favorite things to do at a sporting event.

But who makes sure the food you eat at Cleveland stadiums is safe?

The Cleveland Department of Public Health is responsible for inspecting restaurants, grocery stores and stadiums.

“Our stadiums are inspected at least four times over the course of the operating season,” said George Baker, the department’s interim director. "You have a very large number of people there,” he said.

“The seriousness of a potential illness is very large there. We feel it's very important to the health and safety of the citizens of the people attending the functions at the sites that we do keep on top of these,” he continued.

We agree.  

NewsChannel5 investigators reviewed hundreds of food inspection records during a two-year period to see what inspectors found at Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena and First Energy Stadium.

We took a close look at each stadium’s critical violations because those violations can lead to foodborne illness.

First Energy Stadium had 44 critical violations.

Some of the issues inspectors uncovered included: hamburgers that needed to be kept at higher temperatures, improperly prepared sushi rice and an instance where “poisonous or toxic materials” were stored in a manner that could contaminate food.

At Quicken Loans arena, we found 21 critical violations. They included: an employee “eating a hot dog while assembling a hot dog;” a “mostly eaten sandwich” sitting on a shelf and workers improperly defrosting chicken.

There were also 21 critical violations at Progressive Field. The main complaint: the hot dogs weren’t hot enough.

Baker said that while some of the violations may sound harmless, they can lead to foodborne illnesses.

“If the hot dogs are not hot enough, you don’t want to eat them,” he said.

Most of the violations fell under the category “Limitation of Growth of Organisms.”

“That’s extremely important,” said Baker.

It means foods must be kept at certain temperatures to be considered safe to eat.

"When you have the organisms in the food, the pathogenic organisms, you can become sick, it can be as simple as a stomachache, diarrhea is another common illness that could occur from that ... a more serious one would be a salmonella poisoning,” said Baker.

However, Baker insists food at your favorite stadium is safe to eat.

"We looked back a full year in our records. And we have received no complaints from the people attending the functions. There are no reports of illness from the people that have attended the functions,” he said.

"We take great pride in making sure this ballpark is clean,” said Kurt Schloss, the Vice President of Concessions for the Cleveland Indians.

"There are songs written about cracker dogs...and apple pie. I mean this is as much of the part of the sport as the game itself,” said Schloss.

The Cleveland Cavaliers sent us the following statement:

“The well-being of our fans is always a top priority, and the issues raised in past reports were addressed and remedied immediately. We are committed to excellence throughout every aspect of our operations at The Q and food safety is no exception.  We offer a wide variety of distinctive and enjoyable menu offerings for guests and we will continue to work with our hospitality partner to ensure the food served at our arena is of the highest quality and prepared in the safest environments.”

Cleveland Browns Rob McBurnett sent us the following statement:

“We strive to provide our fans the best fan experience in all areas, including through high-quality food offerings at our stadium. Nothing is more important than our fans’ health and safety when attending games. We and our partners have the highest safety standards, and we are confident in the training, practices and procedures they employ in their operations. We are made aware of and take seriously each health inspection report and potential issues, all of which we immediately address and correct.”