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Health inspectors find dead mice at Colts stadium

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Health inspectors have repeatedly cited a food contractor at Lucas Oil Stadium for critical food safety violations, including mouse droppings and dead mice in kitchen areas.

Ed Culver of the Marion County Health Department said inspections at the stadium resulted in 42 citations and $3,900 in fines. Health inspectors found mice droppings in storage rooms, in kitchens and in an oven. Inspectors also found dead mice and numerous live ones in a kitchen area.

“Mice can carry food-borne illness like salmonella,” Culver said. “It’s not a good idea to have mice in your food stand.”

Centerplate, the food service company at the Indianapolis Colts stadium, said it has put mouse traps around kitchen areas and has hired an exterminator. Centerplate executive vice president George Wooten said any violation is serious, and the company will make sure there is no rodent infestation.

Top executives of the Stamford, Conn.-based company arrived at the stadium Thursday and said it would have 15 of its own food safety inspectors working there during the Colts game Sunday against the New England Patriots.

“It’s our responsibility to control the situation and ensure that we don’t have rodent infestation, we don’t have active rodent activity, so that’s what we’re doing,” Wooten said.

The company has a contract worth more than $13 million to serve food at Lucas Oil Stadium, a $720 million facility that opened just last year.

Culver said the rodent problem seems to have decreased recently and may be under control.

“One wouldn’t want to say it’s totally eliminated,” he said.

The Colts sent an e-mail this week to season ticket holders saying the team is working to make sure any problems are quickly resolved.

“Nothing is more important to the Indianapolis Colts than the health and safety of our fans,” the e-mail said. “We also believe that anything that can be controlled, such as sanitation, should never be compromised.”

Food inspectors let stadium officials know when they will be visiting, said John Althardt, a spokesman for the Marion County Health Department. Restaurants are typically visited unannounced, but exceptions are made for NFL facilities because of security reasons.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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