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City to Begin Letter Grading Food Carts, Trucks

Hot Dog Truck, NYC by Tony Fischer via Flickr

Nov. 9, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan

The city will soon begin to put letter grades on food carts and trucks throughout the boroughs.

The Health Department announced today that is has published a set of new rules in the City Record for the new grading program, set to launch in December.

Over the next two years, all 5,500 authorized food carts and trucks city-wide will be inspected by the Health Department and given a letter grade.

Similar to the existing restaurant grading system, each mobile food vendor will receive an “A,” “B” or “C” ,which will be awarded according to the number of food safety violations observed during the inspection.

Each vendor will be issued a new permit decal displaying the letter, and location sharing devices will be attached to every cart and truck to locate the vendor when they are due for inspection.

“The letter grade has become absolutely essential as it relates to restaurants,” said City Council Member Karen Koslowitz, who first introduced legislation requiring letter grading on food trucks last year. “Yet, every day, countless numbers of people in New York purchase food from a street vendor without knowing to a general degree the cart’s compliance with the NYC Health Code.

“I believe that the customers who buy food from a street vendor deserve to have the same ability to make an informed decision as do patrons of restaurants,” she said.

Restaurant letter grades were first rolled out in New York City in 2010. According to The Health Department, 91 percent of New Yorkers approve of restaurant grading, and 88 percent use letter grades to make decisions about where to dine.

After years of discussions about mobile vendor letter grades, Koslowitz introduced a bill to the City Council in February 2017. The bill passed unanimously in May of that year.

To help cart and truck food vendors prepare for the inspections, The Health Department will host a number of food safety education workshops in the coming months.

Vendors will learn about the new grading program and go over guidelines on how to prepare and handle food safely.

The workshop dates and locations will be posted on the Health Department’s website.

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27 Comments

Greg

I heard they will be inspecting them once every 12 months and only those with less than a A will be revisited. I hope they all get inspected and shut down during a heatwave in July! They dirty and stink up the neighborhood and take over the sidewalk.

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Andrew

This doesn’t go far enough. They need to inspect where they prep and store the food which is usually in disgusting basements, garages and sheds.

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Sam

For most customers it does not make a difference. Most of us know that their food storage and prep areas are not the most sanitary. People still line up for it, buy it and eat it. It’s affordable (compared to the over priced places around here) and fast.

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Andrew

All New Yorkers should feel confident that their food is safe when they go out to eat, regardless if it’s from a food truck or a brick and mortar restaurant.

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Beth

Of course this happening now that many of the food trucks and carts are being operated by many minority people. Before when it was dominated by Europeans the city did not care. Its a shame!

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Anonymous

Take it easy Beth. Leave the race card out. Race here is nothing but an excuse at this point, at least for this topic. The “minorites” as you say have been running these carts for more than a decade.

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Dr burrows

We need to inspect all the food. Mostly the ones from India and middle east . Those are the dirtiest

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Stacy

I wish the city would start Letter grading all the prepared food and buffets popping up in our markets. I got so sick from eating a heated cheese pie and olives that I purchased at an international market in Astoria this past summer. And the owner seemed to care less when i spoke up about the next day. He just walked away and said he never had a problem and that he was too busy to talk to me.

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Jules

This is wonderful news. I never understood why food carts were exempt from letter grades. Hopefully they will also go after them for taxes and not giving receipts.

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ABC

It’s going to interesting to see how the carts all “scatter” throughout the city. BTW where do they was there hands? Hmmmm

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Common Sense Rules

Great first step. Now 3 more to go!!!

– Food carts/trucks must give receipts and pay their fair share of taxes.

– Permits have to be rented on the books and pay taxes.

– All carts/trucks have to be equipped with a high power fan and vent on top pointing upwards, keeping smoke away from people’s faces.

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Dennis

I’m happy to hear about the GPS tracking devices cause many of these carts operate with fake or duplicate permits.

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