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.
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.