Grandstand “Dining”

Spring and summer brings outdoor events. An American favorite is going to the races. With all the excitement, be sure your day isn’t ruined by a nasty case of food poisoning.

Consider these tips:

Hand washing:

  • Consider everything you touched on your way into the grandstand is contaminated. The door knobs, the railing, the seat backs, etc.

  • Consider that everything carries whatever disease that last person had so WASH your hands before you eat anything.

You many be getting a real surprise with ice.

  • Ice is a food. It needs to be kept frozen. According to an article on, if it melts, it is spoiling and need to be disposed.

  • An ABC News Dateline article points out that dirty ice can make you sick.

  • When you store items in ice, the ice becomes dirty. So don’t use it in drinks.

Brown bagging it?

Some events allow you to bring your food and beverages in approved bags and coolers.

It is tempting but remember:

  • Many foods perish within two hours unless you refrigerate or keep cold in a cooler.

  • If the temperature is 90 ˚F or higher, according to, cut that time down to one hour!

Yum, give me one of those grandstand hot dogs!

According to, hot dogs should be kept at 145 degrees. The last time I had a concession hot dog it was raw inside. I returned it and demanded an cooked one.

Relish stands:

  • Some Health Departments state “Condiments provided for the customer’s use including onions, relish, sauces, peppers, catsup, mustard, etc., shall be dispensed as single serve packets or from shelf-stable squeeze-type containers.”

  • Those relish stands are high risk. You might want to avoid.

Pretzels have been dipped in Lye or sodium hydroxides before cooking. Wow! I didn’t know that until researching for this blog. According to those pretzels may be contaminated with chemicals that may be hazardous to your health. But it’s up to you.

It may be hot outside. Remember that alcohol can dehydrate you. Be sure to add enough water to your diet to prevent dehydration from the sun, from the excitement and from the alcohol.

Most of all, have fun! Just be safe!


Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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