At Mall of America food court, 68% of vendors have critical health violations

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The Today Show spotted one of these at a Boston food court!
Along with the grotesqueness of gargantuan Cinnabons and too-salty, lukewarm fried rice, here's one more reason not to eat at mall food courts: You may be more likely to get sick at a food court than a regular restaurant.

The Today Show took its crews to food courts at several popular shopping centers, including the Mall of America, and caught cockroaches scuttling up the walls, among other health violations. Looking into health inspection reports from 2009, they found that 68 percent of vendors at the Mall of America had critical violations--everything from rodents to unsafe food temperatures to employees using bare hands to touch food.

Food courts can be more prone to violations due to tighter workspaces, higher volumes, and employee turnover. Still, the 68 percent number is a shocker: Comparing the MOA food court to stadium vendors, a roughly analogous dining situation, ESPN reported that in 2009, the Metrodome had 8 percent of its vendors with critical violations, Target Center had 39 percent, and the Xcel had 17 percent.

Watch the Today Show report:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here's the MOA's response: (pretty generic except for the texting campaign--kind of like the mall's version of the city's 311 line)

Our goal at Mall of America is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all of our guests. With more than 40 million visitors a year enjoying our more than 500 retail stores and 60 restaurants, we recognize that exceeding our own expectations is not always easy. However, it is a challenge we have embraced for our 18 years of operation, and a challenge we fully expect our tenants to embrace along with us.

Mall of America restaurants are inspected regularly by the City of Bloomington and held to the highest standards. The inspection process serves a vital role - to protect the health of all of us. While Mall of America management is not involved in the inspection process, we take such violation notifications very seriously and work with tenants to make sure the problem is corrected.

All violations cited in the NBC report were addressed promptly by our tenants. The City has an inspection process to follow up on violations cited.

That said, we take several steps to ensure a continued safe food environment, including:

· Our tenants take prompt action when notified of any violations or issues.

· We have instituted a texting campaign that will allow guests to quickly and easily share any concerns they have regarding food safety or cleanliness issues; texts will be monitored during all operational hours, with responses to the guest, as well as the tenant.

· We contract with a well respected professional firm to identify and resolve any pest issues.

· The City of Bloomington gives awards each year for outstanding food safety. Several of our tenants have received this award and as landlords we sponsor this award and encourage all of our restaurants to participant.

Mall of America has always taken the safety of our guests seriously, and we will continue to do so. We remain committed to responding quickly to any issue whether we discover them, are notified by the City or by a guest. We do everything within our power to resolve all issues promptly.


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