Whatever happened to Jon Costa, the food safety manager for the food service vendor at both Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City, MO? Costa went public last November with some stomach-churning food safety violations at the side-by-side stadiums where the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, respectively, play NFL football and Major League Baseball. Aramark Sports & Entertainment is the common food service vendor.

Kauffman Stadium
Aramark, in a letter obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines unit, reportedly fired Costa “for cause” on March 17, claiming that he violated the stadium food company’s policy by using the media to warn the public about alleged food safety problems. Costa, himself a former health department inspector, grew concerned about what Aramark, the Chiefs, and Royals were allowing at the stadiums last year. When the World Series ended, he documented those concerns for the local health department and copied the media. The Kansas City Health Department followed up with a Nov. 3 inspection of both stadiums and found violations at 20 of 26 food service stands, including 37 critical violations. Mold growth, filth and excessive fruit flies marked the inspections. Aramark has declined to address Costa’s firing, citing privacy concerns “even if an individual chooses to discuss their situation publicly.” The company says it has served 17 million Kansas City fans since 2007 without a fatality due to food safety. Costa went to work for Aramark as a food safety manager in April 2012 and was later named District Safety Manager for its Kansas City venues. He received praise and salary bumps until ending up on paid administrative leave on Nov. 5, 2014, two days after sharing his food safety concerns. Costa subsequently filed a complaint against Aramark on Dec. 18, 2014, asking for reinstatement to his job, along with back pay and attorney’s fees. The notice he was fired came on St. Patrick’s Day, just a couple weeks ahead of the Royals home opener on April 6.

  • Sarah

    This is absolutely unacceptable. Someone is trying to keep people safe and Aramark just wants to keep the contract. I really get annoyed when people say they’ve never made anyone sick. I want to scream, that you know of. Most food borne illness does not get report. Thanks Aramark for making a mockery of food safety.

    • DocB

      They were quoted in the article as saying, “they did not have a fatality”. That makes me feel so safe!

  • Gary

    That is deplorable. I hope he wins his case in a landslide victory. I know the new FSMA has protections against whistleblowing so it will be interesting to test the merit in the court in this case.

  • lifeinorange

    Again, This is what “private industry” is all about…….the mighty dollar. The same thing occurred to me with a widely known company back in 2007 who claims pride within their restaurant inspections, but when you find violations, or excuse me, “opportunities”, they jump all over you because they don’t want to lose that account with that concern. Currently this same company has openings here in the Sacramento California area and they have since last year……gee, I wonder why. When I came forward with data too, I also almost got fired, all from simply, or what I thought I was hired to do, to help protect the public’s health and safety…..”BULL SHIT”.

  • Gary

    I watched/listened to an interview ESPN did with the Aramark CEO and he said something to the effect of, “We had spent a lot of resources and time listening to Costa’s issues he brought to us.” However, he did not give any specifics about what corrections they took the fix the issues. The impression I got from the Aramark CEO during the interview is he believed Costa to be a whiny/complainer who did not do his job. Sounds to me like Costa tried to do his job and was thwarted at every level from the CEO down to the floor/stadium employees. This is indicative of a failing food safety culture with no help or care from top management. Like someone else said, “they did not have a fatality” which was quoted from the Aramark CEO.

    Awesome…I’m never eating at either of those stadiums. I wonder how the fans feel about this as a whole? Would they dare eat at either of those stadiums?

  • gildedage

    The system/government is a 100% corupt, inverted-totalitarian, police-state. The individual means nothing, except to be robbed, oppressed, impoverished, imprisoned, murdered for the sake of 1% of 1% of 1% to have all wealth, opportunity, resources, and power and decisions concentrated. The ONLY solution to this situation is for the determined minority to engage this enemy to humanity by way of Violent Asymmetric Guerilla Counter-Insurgency until the government is totally eradicated.

  • Shiloh

    I had a similar experience as food safety manager with Aramark at Oakland Colosseum, only I resigned after about two week when it became clear that there was no real concern for food safety. They only wanted a yes man to give the appearance of food safety. In my entire career I had never encountered a situation where the local health department made appointments to come audit a facility for food safety practices, cleanliness and condition. The health department shold be able to inspect whenever and whereever they please. Let the buyer beware.