Tracie Hunte, Assistant Producer, WNYC News
Tracie Hunte is an Assistant Producer in the WNYC Newsroom.
Food trucks and carts should be governed under the same letter-grading system that currently applies to New York City restaurants, according to a Queens lawmaker.
State Senator Jose Peralta proposed legislation last week that would require street vendors to display the grades on their carts and trucks.
Under the bill, any grade lower than a C is considered a failing grade. Vendors would be given a chance to appeal a letter grade within 30 days.
The city health department said it already inspects food carts and consumers can check the results online.
"Letter grading of mobile food vendors would require a number of considerations that are quite different than restaurants,” the department said in a statement. “A corresponding scoring system for food safety and sanitary violations that carts receive is not in place at this time."
But, the health department added, it is "is a considering ways to better let the public know that a cart or truck has been inspected."
Peralta said that's not good enough.
"If you have some sort of question about a street vendor — whether they're sanitary or not — are you going to pause at the moment while you're hungry to look up on your computer whether that individual or that street cart has met certain standards?" Peralta asked. "I believe not."
The Street Vendor Project, which provides legal representation and advocacy for street vendors, and the New York City Food Truck Association, an advocacy group, support the letter grades.
But both organizations would like lawmakers to address what they see as more pertinent problems in the regulation of mobile food vendors: prohibitions against selling in metered parking spots, expensive fines and streamlining the licensing process for food carts and trucks.