It wasn’t just the bats of the Kansas City Royals that expired by Game 7 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in KC. So too had much of the food, some of which was served at unsafe temperatures and in the presence of cockroaches and mouse feces. Who says so? Jon Costa, the food safety manger for both the side-by-side Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums. The two are among 30 professional sports stadiums where Aramark, Costa’s employer, provides food services. Costa was put on administrative leave by Aramark after turning evidence of the significant food safety risks over to the local health department and the media — most importantly ESPN’s Outside the Lines (OTL) unit. The day after KC’s Chiefs defeated the New York Jets on Nov. 2, the city’s health department arrived at the stadiums for a surprise inspection, finding 37 critical violations in 20 out of 26 concession areas. Aramark called Costa, who they had hired away from the city health department two and a half years ago, a “disgruntled” employee. Problems at the two stadiums surfaced well before Costa was hired to manage food safety for Aramark at Kaufman and Arrowhead. In 2010, OTL reported that 62 percent of Kauffman’s concessions, and 56 percent of Arrowhead’s had recent critical food safety violations. They were included in a review of food safety violations at all 107 North American venues for professional football, hockey, baseball and basketball. With that history, however, Costa was unable to persuade Aramark and the Royals to make corrections prior to the World Series in practices that put food safety in jeopardy and that he called “habitual.” And, after the Royals lost in Game 7 to the San Francisco Giants, they apparently just shut off the lights and locked the doors. Leftover food and a lack of cleaning turned Kauffman into a winter home for rodents and insects. While nothing more was scheduled for Kauffman until spring, the Seattle Seahawks play the KC Chiefs today at Arrowhead. Aramark brought in the usual third-party auditing service and claims all issues from the Nov. 3rd inspection have been resolved — a finding confirmed by the city health department’s re-inspection work. Naser Jouhari, division manager for the city health department, says what his inspectors found at the two stadiums was “shocking.” He also says Costa knows what he is talking about. When Costa decided to report the conditions at the two stadiums to the health department and the media, he did so with extensive photographic and other evidence. Costa probably expected he’d be fired. For its part, Aramark appears to be as tone-deaf about food safety as are the KC sports teams. Tod MacKenzie, the company’s communications and public affairs vice president, put the problems back on Costa, saying he was “personally responsible and entrusted with managing food safety at the locations in question.” The evidence points in a different direction — line managers not required to respond to Costa’s requests. Or the way Costa put it on camera to OTL: “When we lose control over hygienic practices and we also combine that with poor temperature control — that could be a catastrophe. That is a recipe for foodborne illness… It’s very likely temperatures are abused at every game. Every game.” When you add that to mouse dung in the pizza trays and cockroaches in vending areas, and piled high junk obstructing workers from hand-washing sinks, you’ve got the sort of mess that is a recipe for a food safety disaster. This is clearly a problem in KC that is not being taken seriously. Marc Bruno, chief operating officer for Aramark Sports and Entertainment, does not inspire confidence when he refers to critical violations as “just allegations at this point. No, Mr. Bruno, critical violations are imminent health threats that must be corrected immediately. They are not “just allegations.” And unless professional sports, at the Commissioner level, begins to take food safety at these stadiums seriously, there is going to be the kind of killer outbreak that likely was keeping Costa awake at night. The action Costa has taken in KC is the kind that merits whistleblower protection. Let’s hope the new Food Safety Modernization Act or an appropriate state law provides him adequate protection against a company whose motivation has now been seriously called into question. The owners of the Royals and Chiefs, as well as the MLB and NFL commissioners, can take comfort in fans’ mocking comments concerning the food safety at Kaufmann and Arrowhead. Like this one: “Who got sick?” But make 20 or 200 or 2,000 of these same fans ill with something your food service sold them, and they will turn on you faster than Madison Bumgarner mowing down all those hapless Royals hitters in Game 7. In the meantime, I’d make sure your contracts with Aramark makes them liable for any illnesses or deaths caused by their food. Just saying.   Some contracts are written that way.