Your favorite food cart may soon get a letter grade to tell you just how clean it is. Queens State Senator Jose Peralta is planning to introduce a bill this week that will propose just that, according to various published reports.
According to the The New York Post, the carts would have to have grades posted, with fines for those who don't. Reinspections would be available to owners for $250. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has favored such legislation in the past.
According to the Huffington Post, however, there might be a fly in the ointment: Not enough inspectors to handle the extra work at the Department of Health. Only 20 inspectors grade mobile food establishments right now.
A group that advocates on behalf of street vendors also is in favor of such legislation. Said Matthew Shapiro, staff attorney with the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center,We think it will result in a fairer inspection process, like are done in restaurants. With restaurant inspections, if there is a violation, the restaurant doesn't have to pay, but street vendors can pay fines up to a $1000, he told IBTimes.
Beyond that vendors get inspected very often, and at random. In some cases a single cart may get hit by roving inspectors up to 15 times a year, he noted, adding, We'd like the vendors to be treated more like restaurants.
More importantly, he stressed, We generally support the initiative to havae letter grades as it wll help show vendors sell clean and delicious foods, and will let them correct any violations that they have.
Mayor Bloomerg is on record as being in favor of such a program as well, so the legislation has a good chance of making the grade.
As for those brick and mortar establishments that compain about the carts taking away their business, Shapiro points out that his organization has numerous academic studies that show that, in fact, just the opposite is true. The truth is, vendors bring more traffic to the street and more business to stores, he said.