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ESPN Report: The Palace Second-Worst Venue For Food Violations In North America

How do Detroit's other pro venues stack up?

December 13, 2018 - 11:49 am
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If you ever purchased food at the Palace of Auburn Hills, there's a good chance the vendor it came from wasn't up to health standards. 

Per a detailed report from ESPN's Outside the Lines, which "reviewed more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports from health departments that monitor the 111 professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey facilities across North America," the Palace had the second-highest rate of food vendors with high-level violations. The inspections reports were done in 2016 and 2017. 

Out of the 36 food outlets inspected at The Palace, 31 turned up high-level violations. Only the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, was worse. A few of the violations at The Palace are detailed below: 

  • Out-of-date food: Inspectors found a gallon of milk past the expiration date in a cooler and chemicals stored next to bar syrups during a June 23, 2016, inspection. That was one of three priority violations at this location during the inspection. 
  • Copper cup issue: Copper-lined cups were used to serve Moscow mules at a bar on Dec. 21, 2016. Using cups lined only with copper can create a chemical reaction that allows ingestion of the copper, and such cups are banned for use in commercial food service operations by many states' food codes.
  • Uncovered hair: Inspectors saw employees without hair nets in the club mini-kitchen on June 28, 2017.

The Palace closed in 2017, of course, and the Pistons have since moved to Little Caesars Arena. So, how did LCA stack up in ESPN's report? 50th, with a 31.7 percent rate of high-level violations: 

  • Out-of-date food:On Oct. 25, 2017, inspectors found lime juice at the bar dated for use by Oct. 11 and raisins and apricots dated for use by Oct. 2 in a cooler.
  • Food too cold: Inspectors measured fish, beef, chicken and green beans at temperatures ranging from 84 to 133 degrees at the Players Club West. Hot foods are to be held at 135 degrees or above.
  • Beer in hand sink:Inspectors saw a cup with beer in it sitting in the hand sink at the East Club on Oct. 25, 2017. Sinks designated for handwashing aren't to be used for other purposes.

The rest of Detroit's pro venues, including The Joe, which also closed in 2017, are listed with their corresponding ranking below. 

No. 77: Joe Louis Arena

  • Raw fish storage: On Feb. 8, 2016, inspectors found raw fish (salmon) stored over cooked mashed potatoes in the walk-in cooler.
  • Bare hands used: Inspectors saw employees handle cut fruits with bare hands at two different bars during Jan. 31, 2017, inspections.
  • Uncovered hair: Inspectors saw bearded employees with no nets over their facial hair on Jan. 25, 2017.

No. 61: Comerica Park

  • Food too warm: Inspectors found chicken salad and tomatoes at 55 degrees and potato salad and pasta salad at 45 degrees at the Press Box Lounge salad bar on April 13, 2017. Cold foods are to be kept at 41 degrees or less.
  • Handwashing issue: Inspectors responded to a complaint from a customer who said that on June 16, 2017, while in the restroom she saw a female employee of concession stand exit the restroom without washing her hands, and she followed that same employee back to the concession stand and observed her working with bare, unwashed hands. She stated that the employee was putting pizza toppings in a stainless steel container.
  • Out-of-date food: On April 12, 2016, inspectors found raw beef over cooked ground beef, which holds a potential for contamination. And on June 8, 2017, inspectors found two, 3-pound containers of sour cream with a use-by date of May 3, 2017.

No. 32: Ford Field

  • Raw burger contamination: Inspectors saw an employee touch raw hamburger then a hamburger bun without washing hands and changing gloves on Oct. 8, 2017.
  • Customers didn't use utensils: Inspectors saw customers self-serve condiments without utensils at a concession stand on Oct. 16, 2016, allowing for potential contamination.
  • Dirty hot chocolate machine: The inside of a hot chocolate machine was dirty at a concession on Oct. 16, 2016. Inspectors ordered that the machine be cleaned on a daily basis.

For once, the Lions are setting the pace. 

Still, Ford Field doesn't come close to Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors, which ranked first in ESPN's report with a violation rate of just 1.12 percent.