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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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