December 14, 2018 6:58 pm
Updated: December 15, 2018 12:12 am

AHS refutes data showing concerning health violations at Saddledome, Rogers Place

WATCH: New data from ESPN points to several health violations at Alberta's two NHL arenas, but Alberta Health Services is questioning the claims. Adam MacVicar reports.

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A new report from ESPN that looks into health violations at major North American sports venues is calling into question how sanitary the food vendors at the Scotiabank Saddledome are.

The Saddledome, the epicentre of NHL hockey in Calgary since 1983, offers 77 food service locations. According to the report, 32.65 per cent of inspections at those locations between 2016 and 2017 resulted in what they call “high-level violations.”

The report points to issues like mouse droppings found, food being kept below required temperatures, as well as an incident involving an employee eating food while packing popcorn in October 2016.

In Edmonton, the newly-opened Rogers Place didn’t fare much better, according to ESPN. The report states that 41.16 per cent of inspections resulted in high-level violations.

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Neither the Calgary Flames organization or the Oilers Entertainment Group were available for comment Friday.

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But Alberta Health Services, the organization that conducts health inspections in Alberta, is refuting the data released by ESPN.

“It is not possible to accurately compare public health records, reports and violations across jurisdictions, provinces and indeed, countries unless identical processes are utilized,” read a statement from AHS.

While AHS couldn’t confirm the accuracy of the ESPN report, the organization said the data it supplied for the report doesn’t match.

According to data provided to Global News from AHS, there were a total 159 inspections resulting in 93 violations in 2016 and 2017 at facilities at the Saddledome, 39 of which were considered critical violations.

Of the 77 food locations at the Saddledome, AHS considers seven to be high-risk as they handle more food and work as a full-service restaurant; 16 fall under medium-risk, as they handle foods like pizza, burgers or sandwiches. Vendors that serve popcorn, ice cream and drinks are considered low-risk.

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Rogers Place has 53 food service locations, five are considered high-risk and 24 are medium-risk.

The south mezzanine club, one of two such areas, at the Rogers Place arena in downtown Edmonton. Each club has 1,600 seats and is on the mezzanine level. Image taken September 7, 2016.

In 2016 and 2017, there were 242 inspections which also resulted in 93 violations at Rogers Place, 41 of those were considered critical.

“A critical violation would be a situation or a condition where injury or illness may likely occur if left uncorrected,” AHS said in a statement. “These violations hold a higher hazard rating and therefore should be rectified immediately to prevent potential illness or injury.”

AHS said an example of a critical violation would be a cooler containing perishable items being stored above required temperatures.

Inspections are typically conducted unannounced and during full operations of the food facilities, mostly conducted in the evenings, and occasionally during the day, according to AHS.

Global News has reached out to ESPN for comment but did not receive a response by time of publishing.

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