Health officials are fed up with food problems at Bowling Green State University athletic events and have
considered shutting down its concessions operation.
An inspector found 11 critical violations at Doyt L. Perry Stadium last weekend during a home football
game, a sign that BGSU’s concessions contractor, Sodexo, has failed to address problems pointed out over
the last several years.
Sodexo representatives met last year with health district staff to implement a plan to address “repeat
critical violations and ongoing issues over the past two years,” according to Wood County Health
District inspection records.
Violations continued through this year. Even before the 11 violations over the weekend, Sodexo was found
in July to be operating a temporary concessions stand at the university baseball field without a
license. This year and last, problems were also recorded at Stroh Center and ice arena concessions
A sanitarian who visited the football stadium Saturday found problems at five of eight concessions
stands, as well as a trailer and two stands operated by subcontractors who could not produce food
service licenses. At the permanent stands, violations centered around food temperatures, inadequate
handwashing sinks and people in charge who did not know information about proper hold temperatures. The
inspector also noted that employees had not completed training that had been part of the plan agreed to
Stickier violations were recorded at the two units operated by a subcontractor. The inspector’s report
specifically mentions a worker handling cotton candy with no gloves, hair net or access to any
handwashing sink, and doing so near an open garage where lawnmowers are stored.
“I asked him to show me how he washes (his) hands and he took a 5 gallon jug of water and put soap on his
hands and poured the water over his hands over top of a bucket (sitting) on the floor,” the inspector
The inspector thought he would encounter a tidy operation when he visited the stadium Saturday because of
the plan formed last year, said Brad Espen, director of environmental health.
“When you think you’re on the right path and then go out there and see 11 critical violations, it’s very
frustrating for all of us here,” he said.
“We just can’t seem to get them where they need to be.”
Espen said he met with BGSU attorneys and the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office for most of the day
“We’re still reviewing our administrative and legal options,” he said this morning.
Conversations with BGSU and Sodexo led to several immediate steps to address the problems. The company
will increase event staff, recalibrate its equipment and bring in staff from Chicago to do an immediate
review of the facilities here, Espen said.
Additionally, BGSU’s separate contractor for campus dining, Chartwells, will serve as a consultant for
future football games and events, and no more subcontractors will be hired to sell food at events. Espen
said he is confident in Chartwells’ ability to provide guidance to Sodexo.
BGSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said the university is taking the problems seriously and will address them.
“They’re the experts,” Kielmeyer said of the health district. “They’ve identified the issues, and we’re
going to fix those issues.”
Kielmeyer said he did not want to speculate on whether the violations could affect the standing of the
university’s contract with Sodexo, a 10-year deal which began in 2011.
A copy of the agreement, which Kielmeyer provided this morning, states that either party can end the
contract without cause given a 60-day notice.
“High quality food service is an important part of the excellent fan experience BGSU is committed to
providing to those who come to our games,” Kielmeyer wrote in a statement. “Fans can be confident that
BGSU will hold its food service vendors to the highest standards. We very much appreciate the (health
district) bringing this to our attention.”
A message left seeking comment from Sodexo Tuesday was not returned.