Bad Food at Calder

The racetrack can be a dangerous place, at least for the trainers who tend to the horses and the jockeys who ride them. On the other hand, the patrons get to view the races in relative comfort and safety. Unless they get hungry and happen to be at Calder.

On November 9 inspectors from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation closed Calder Casino and Race Course for violations of food service regulations. The citations included:

  • raw/undercooked animal foods were offered and there was no consumer advisory posted;
  • a stop-sale was issued on potentially hazardous pork due to temperature abuse;
  • a black/green mold-like substance was inside the ice machine;
  • small flying insects were in the kitchen, food prep or storage areas;
  • more than 10 live roaches were in the premise;
  • no proof of required, state-approved training was provided for all employees.

I don’t know about you, but reading that made me queasy. And it doesn’t make me feel better to know that after10 live cockroaches the inspector gets to just use the inexact “more than” count.

Luckily for patrons Calder cleaned things up and got to open up the next day. I tried contacting Matthew Harper, spokesperson for Churchill Downs Inc. at Calder, multiple times for comment but he did not get back to me. He did, however, comment for the Sun-Sentinel, saying,

The safety of our guests and team members is our highest priority.  We immediately took action based on the finding  and rectified the issues in the issues in less than 24 hours. We have taken steps in identifying and enacting procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.”

It seems a little disingenuous to suggest safety is the highest priority with the sort of violations the inspector found, but what could you expect CDI to say other than we fixed the problem and took steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And then lay low.

I hope they meant it, but you don’t change the management and culture of a place in a day. The highest likelihood was that this wasn’t a problem where the inspector just happened to catch them on a bad day, but that it had been festering for a while. Disregard for something as important as the health and safety of your patrons says something about the operation in general. The problem shouldn’t have happened in the first place. A good business does not treat its patrons with anything less than total care. Just because we are horseplayers and gamblers doesn’t mean we are willing to put up with poor practices and sanitation when it comes to ordering a hot dog and a beer.

Hopefully the inspectors will stay on top of the situation. Meanwhile, you might want to stick with bottled drinks and eat your lunch before you leave home.