Take me out to the ball game (and the concession stand too)

How to keep those ballpark foods safe to eat.

If you are a baseball or softball enthusiast or if you have children in your life who are, you will probably be spending a good amount of time at sporting events this summer. In my family, we are at softball, baseball and soccer games and practices at least four times a week. This leads to frequent snacks and the occasional dinner at the ball field concession stands. In fact, I am quite certain the concession stand is my 5 year old’s favorite part of watching his sister play softball.

Concession stands are often managed by volunteers, usually of various ages. Our family took a turn working the stand one Saturday morning and sold lots of different items. Selling food is a great way for the leagues to raise funds and help support the kids and community. If you work with your local community youth leagues and volunteer to help in the concession stands, here are a few points provided by Michigan State University Extension to keep the food safe for all your customers:

  • Wash your hands when you enter the concession stand for your shift, and be sure volunteers rewash their hands after they leave and return to the stand. Handwashing should last for at least 20 seconds total using soap and warm water. A sign should be hanging near the sink in the stand and the restrooms reminding volunteers that they must wash their hands.
  • Make sure lots of disposable gloves are available to prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, such as nachos, hot dogs and pretzels. Help volunteers understand when to use gloves, as well as when to change them.
  • Gloves do not need to be worn when handling money, however hands should be washed after touching money. If gloves are accidentally used, then they should be taken off and hands should be washed before touching food.
  • Consider the age of the volunteers working in the stand. While lots of volunteers are necessary, it might be wise to consider setting an age limit to ensure those working know how to safely handle food items to prevent contamination. This is especially important if you are preparing food items, like hot dogs and sandwiches. If everything is prepackaged, then the risk of contaminating food with unsafe practices is much lower. 
  • Offer training for volunteers. Talk with the person in charge about volunteer training which can be provided by MSU Extension staff. Also consider hanging posters with food safety information in the concession stand.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, speak with the person in charge of the concession stand. If you happen to be the one in charge, contact your local health department for information regarding a temporary food license.

Concession stands are great sources of revenue for community leagues. Keep the food safe for all the players and fans.

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