Boston food trucks sling safer food than restaurants, study claims

Team Member Julia Grimes cleans up Lilian's Smokin' Rack Barbecue food truck after a day of work on the Rose Kennedy Greenway yesterday. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/ETRO
Team Member Julia Grimes cleans up Lilian’s Smokin’ Rack Barbecue food truck after a day of work on the Rose Kennedy Greenway yesterday.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/ETRO

Boston’s street food is just as safe, if not safer, than food sold by brick-and-mortar restaurants, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Institute for Justice collected data from the The Boston Inspectional Services Department, which inspects all food establishments for potential violations. The study showed that between 2011 and July 2013, per inspection: food trucks averaged less than three violations; food carts averaged one violation; and brick-and-mortar restaurants averaged more than four violations.

Boston food trucks and carts are subject to the same health codes and inspection regime as restaurants.

“I think the microscope is on [food trucks] probably a lot harder than a brick-and-mortar restaurant,” said Boston comedian and Dining Car fan Mike Mulloy as he stood waiting for his order Tuesday. “It might be the fact that people probably expect food trucks to be less clean, so they’re making sure that they’re not.”

The sink in Lilian's Smokin' Rack Barbecue food truck is spotless after a day of serving. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/ETRO
The sink in Lilian’s Smokin’ Rack Barbecue food truck is spotless after a day of serving.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/ETRO

Breaking it down

-Between 2011 and July 2013, Boston Inspectional Services looked at 29,898 food trucks, carts, restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias and caterers.

-On average, Boston food trucks received 2.68 violations per inspection, while restaurants got 4.56.

-Looking at “critical foodborne violations,” which may cause foodborne illnesses, food trucks and restaurants were nearly neck and neck, with .87 violations for food trucks, and .84 for restaurants.

“I’m not surprised at the study results,” said Boston food truck blogger Steven Leibowitz, who runs Hubfoodtrucks.com.

“Ever since the [Boston Globe] ran an article last August questioning food truck sanitation, I’ve regularly reviewed the city’s inspection records. You’ll always found restaurants that have had permit suspensions, even high end ones. I don’t think there has been any food truck suspension in over a year,” Leibowitz said.

Food truck cleanliness came into question last July after nearly 30 people who ate at Clover food trucks and restaurants fell ill with salmonella.

Angela Erickson, author of “Street Eats, Safe Eats,” says the idea that street food is unsafe is a myth.

“Boston residents love food trucks, but the city makes it incredibly difficult for food trucks to operate. Food trucks are banned from roaming on public property and can only operate in one of 30 city-designated spots,” Erickson said.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association declined to comment on the findings. Boston’s Office of Food Initiatives did not return a request for comment.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…