Rexall Place has 24 health violations

Edmonton's Rexall Place has racked up 24 health code violations since 2009, making it Canada's worst major stadium for food safety.

Edmonton arena's food safety record worst among major Canadian sports venues

Edmonton's Rexall Place has racked up 24 health code violations since 2009, making it the worst major stadium in Canada from a food safety standpoint.

Edmonton's Rexall Place has the worst food safety record of all major sports stadiums in Canada. ((CBC))
A CBC News review of health inspection reports found a wide range of violations, from unsafe storage of food to a lack of sanitizer bottles for cleaning food preparation areas and utensils.

On Jan. 27, 2009, as fans watched the Edmonton Oilers lose 10-2 to the Buffalo Sabres, a health inspector wrote up eight violations against concession stands.

At one concession on the main concourse, the inspector found undercooked hamburger patties. At another stand a box of frozen patties was being stored at room temperature. A third concession stand had four hamburgers sitting out at room temperature. The inspector noted it appeared they had been out for a long period of time. Three other instances of food being stored at an unsafe temperature were found, and the inspection also found that there were no paper towels at a staff handwashing station.

When an inspector visited Rexall Place again on Dec. 19, 2009, 10 more violations were found. There were 50 wieners being thawed in a pot of water; bacon, chicken fingers and french fries stored at room temperature; and shredded pork being held at an unsafe temperature. The inspector also wrote up two citations for a lack of sanitizer bottles and one for a staff handwashing station lacking soap.

Five violations were found during an inspection on Jan. 28, 2010, including beef being kept at an unsafe temperature at a buffet in the media lounge. Another violation was recorded on Feb. 6, 2010, with ground beef and cheese for pizza sitting at room temperature.

'They deal with everything': inspector

Despite the hygiene blunders, people eating at Rexall Place can keep doing so, said Michael Kahn, the Alberta Health Services inspector who vetted the facility.

"They deal with everything I ask them to. Every time I've caught something that's a critical violation, they ensure that they try to make sure it doesn't happen again," Kahn said.

"I think it's important that we put this into perspective. It's a big facility. The amount of violations that I find there is in conjunction with many other facilities that I inspect, like regular restaurants."

Kahn said he does his inspections when Rexall is busy, during events like Oilers games, and said that may be why he's catching more violations.

Other major Canadian sports facilities fared much better, however. Scotiabank Place in Ottawa had no violations, nor did the Rogers Centre and Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Inspections are carried out by either provincial or municipal bodies and therefore vary somewhat across the country in how they assess food safety.  

A Rexall Place spokesman called food safety "a top priority" for the venue.

"When issues do arise, we take every measure we can to address them and to identify them," Brian Leadbetter said. "I know that there were many jurisdictions in the United States, for instance, that had significant issues that were far more severe than those that were captured here."

According to ESPN.com, some stadiums in the United States fared much worse — with Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., recording a 100 per cent failure rate when its vendors were inspected.