“Don’t get a hot dog from a food cart! They let dogs pee on their food!”
As a native New Yorker, that’s what I grew up with. Of course, it was never that bad (well, I hope not, LOL! But I also grew up sniffing my hot dog buns for traces of pee smell. What can I say…I was a naive child.), and food carts and food trucks on the streets have been routinely inspected for years. But for the past few months, they’ve also been getting grades, just like NYC restaurants do.
Restaurants in New York City have been getting graded since 2010. The restaurant owners are required to post the grades in a very visible spot, as it’s felt this improves accountability as well as awareness of food safety. Although there have always been grumblings about the fairness of the A-B-C system (here’s a PDF with the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the system), over 90% of NYC’s 24,000+ restaurants receive “A” grades nowadays.
The same has not the case for the 5,000 food carts in the city. Although they were routinely inspected, there was no grading, so you never knew who may have gotten how many of what type of violations. But all that’s changed now.
In January 2019, the NYC Health Department began the task of grading food carts and trucks. They’re using the same A-B-C system used for restaurants and also like restaurants, the grade must be posted in a prevalent place on the cart or truck.
“New Yorkers told us that they love our restaurant grading program, and it only made sense…to extend it to food carts and trucks,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Now customers will be able to see, before deciding to eat at a food cart, how it performed at its health inspection.”
“Food trucks and food carts are enormously popular, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t get a letter grade just like a restaurant. No matter where you are eating in this city, you should have information about food choices,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.
It’s said it will take about 2 years for all 5,000 of the city’s food carts and trucks to be graded and, just like with restaurants, all grades and violations will be listed as public record.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary