New York is known for having a world-class food scene, and the city’s infamous food trucks are just as much a part it as multi-star restaurants.
And like their brick-and-mortar brethren, food carts are subjected to health inspections, but only restaurants must publicly post their sanitary grades. Until now, that is, thanks to a vote this week by the City Council Health Committee.
According to the unanimous vote, food trucks are now required to display their letter grades.
“Everyone who handles food should be subject to the same rules,” City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz of Queens told the New York Post. “People have a right to know if the (eating) conditions are really sanitary.”
Koslowitz, a Queens Democrat, told the Post she sponsored the bill in February after she saw vendors serving food past midnight in her neighborhood in Forest Hills. Since restaurants nearby were already closed by then, it raised questions about how the vendors relive themselves.
“Do they wash their hands? It’s something the public has a right to know,” she said.
Since there was no opposition to the bill, both from the public and food truck vendors, it passed, but still needs to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Once that happens, it will take effect within 270 days.
“A vast majority of street vendors support a letter grading system, since it brings increased legitimacy to their businesses. With this more transparent system in place, consumers will have fewer worries about their food being unsafe when they pick up a falafel, a hot dog or a taco on the go,” Democratic State Sen. Jose Peralta of Queens said in a statement on his website regarding a similar, but separate bill that he is sponsoring in Albany.
The New York Food Truck Association agreed.
“We think food trucks should be held to the same food safety regulations as brick-and-mortar restaurants, not only including letter grades, but also addressing the onerous food safety permitting process for food truck employees,” founder and CEO Ben Goldberg said according to Peralta’s site.
The bill passage came on the heels of a new Senate Independent Democratic Conference report that revealed there were 5,044 violations at more than 4,300 food trucks and carts last year in Manhattan alone. More than 2,800 violations were issued after 2,752 inspections in the outer boroughs.
Metro reached out to the mayor's office for comment on the passage of the bill, but has not heard back at the time of publication.