January 10, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Food Service Matters, Industry Leading Sports & Entertainment Hospitality Consultant Firm, Responds to ESPN’s Outside the Lines Story on Sports Food Safety
Atlanta, Georgia – January 9, 2019 – The recent release of ESPN’s Outside the Lines food-safety inspection report on the nation’s 111 North American pro-sports venues has stirred up the food service industry and raised red flags, putting a roster of teams, leagues and food service providers on the offensive regarding the health and safety of the food being served in their respective venues.
Food Service Matters (FSM), advisors and advocates for the ownership groups of some of the biggest names in sports responded to the December 13th report in which more than 16,000 food-safety inspections from 2016 and 2017 were collected and reviewed from the health departments that monitor the referenced sports facilities.
Mike Plutino, Food Service Matters’ Founder and CEO agrees that food safety and sanitation is of the utmost importance when serving millions of fans across the country, however takes issue with the research metrics and reporting stating, “Food safety is paramount to keeping fans safe throughout our industry. ESPN’s broad brush portrayal of an industry in crisis was incomplete at best and negligent at its worst”. He went on to add, “While we believe every venue actively focuses on food safety, ESPN failed to provide the necessary context and a level playing field to present an accurate picture of each venue’s food safety performance.”
While the ESPN article speaks to the approach of their rankings, the findings are misleading and inaccurate for a variety of reasons that include inconsistency in health department codes from city to city and state to state. Health codes and violations, and how they are documented, differ throughout the country, making it virtually impossible to use as a comparable performance benchmark. Another variable skewing the article’s reporting is the inconsistency in health inspections which holds little to no guidelines around the timing of inspections (whether a building is open or closed, an event day or non-event, or if the venue is even in season or off season).
Jim Dalton, Food Service Matters Chief Operations Officer states, “I have seen instances where a health department might send one inspector to a building and another will send a team of two to three for an inspection, it is a completely inconsistent process and varies from department to city to state”.
Dalton also notes many of the larger food service providers have independent companies evaluating the food safety and sanitation of the venues they are operating so they have an independent and consistent review of the properties they operate.
Plutino adds, “With the importance that hospitality plays in the overall fan experience, food safety and sanitation should be something that each league incorporates into their operating plan going forward to ensure they’re holding venues to their individual leagues’ code of conduct and brand promise as it relates to the fan experience.”
About Food Service Matters
Food Service Matters (FSM) is a solutions-based food, beverage, and hospitality consulting group specializing in sports and entertainment food service. FSM is focused on providing facility and team ownership groups with an objective, independent evaluation of their food and beverage operation. FSM clients include Rose Bowl Stadium, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
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