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Going to the Bears-Packers game? Read this first.

January 21, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Brian Cassella / Chicago…)

Ever wonder about that hot dog you buy at the baseball game? Probably. But if you've been wondering about the ingredients, your concerns may have been misdirected. Next time, give some thought to the conditions under which that hot dog was cooked, sold and handed over to you, the hungry sports fan. In short, food safety and stadiums don't seem to be a winning combo.

The Chicago Tribune found that health inspections at major sports venues in that city were almost always conducted in the off-seasons, when concessions are closed or in limited operation.

The paper also reported this troubling finding: "On July 26, 2010, city inspectors visited Wrigley Field after receiving a complaint that black mold was found throughout the ballpark in mai tai dispenser machines, which are filled with tropical fruit juice and rum. The outcome of that complaint is unclear, though records do state that the inspectors found a cleaning crew on the premises." Read the full story.

Chicago isn't the only city with stadiums that might be spreading more than mustard. ESPN last year gathered health reports and violations -- such as mold in ice machines and cockroaches on soda dispensers -- from 107 stadiums used by pro baseball, basketball, hockey and football teams. Check out the interactive map that lists violations by stadium.

And for those who don't want to think bad thoughts about what they're eating at the old ballgame, consider 1 in 6 Americans are expected get sick this year and 128,000 hospitalized due to food-borne illnesses. This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report points to 31 likely pathogens.

So by all means, cheer on your favorite team. But maybe eat before or after the game.

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