Food Carts and Trucks to Get Letter Grades From New York State
We can level with each other: Part of the fun of eating street food is just not worrying about sanitation. That’s just the nature of buying something from a guy who can speed off at a moment’s notice. But at the same time, the food cart and food truck scene has dramatically changed over the past decade, so it’s probably about time that these vendors faced the same scrutiny as restaurant owners—which is exactly what New York City is planning to start doing.
NYC’s Health Department has announced that, starting this December, the city’s 5,500 food carts and trucks will be subject to the same “A” to “F” letter grade rating system that the city’s restaurants use. Don’t worry: Mobile food vendors are already getting inspected, but before now, they haven’t been required to display their score. “Letter grades on food carts and trucks will help New Yorkers see how these businesses fared on their latest inspection, right when they want to place an order,” Acting Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot told the New York Post. “Just as diners appreciate letter grading in restaurants, we expect this program to be popular among customers of food carts and trucks.”
What isn’t necessarily being met with appreciation, however, is how the Health Department plans to track these mobile eateries for inspection: The proposal calls for all carts and trucks to be located with a GPS system. Matthew Shapiro, the legal director of the Street Vendor Project, said his organization is worried the tracking system could be exploited for things like targeting illegal immigrants. However, the Health Department countered by saying the data would only be accessible by its staff.
Regardless, once the program starts, it should take about two years before every cart and truck gets its initial grade. So hopefully you still have a bit of time to hit up your favorite grimy hot dog cart before all the fun is taken out of it.