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City Council Mulls Letter Grades For Food Carts

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Restaurants in New York City have been required to display letter grades from the health department for over a year now but not street vendors.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he loves to eat from the city’s street vendors.

RELATED: CBSNewYork – NYC’s Best Food Trucks

“Personally, I would love to see before I buy from a cart a sign up there telling me whether or not the guy washed his hands before he reaches in and pulls out the hot dog,” says Bloomberg.

The mayor isn’t the only New Yorker who likes the grading system: a recent poll showed 88 percent of diners consider a restaurant’s score when deciding where to eat.

However, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says a letter grading system for carts is complicated and would be impractical if not impossible.

“They’re not always out there,” he says. “For restaurants we have a fixed schedule. Three months later, we’re going to come back again. Three months later, the cart might not be there.”

Farley says food trucks are inspected using a system similar to that of restaurants.

“We have a score sheet. We look at the same violations. We assign fines based upon those violations,” Farley said.

The City Council is considering requiring carts to post letter grades or risk fines.

According to a report last month, food carts were hit with over 2,500 violations this year.

The worst offender was found at a food cart on the corner of West 41st Street and Seventh Avenue which, in just four months, had racked up 16 violations, according to the report.

Health Department inspections have reportedly found vendors not washing their hands after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing. Seven vendors in Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan were caught with live vermin or animals in their food preparation or storage areas.

Do you think a letter grading system should be put in place for food carts? Let us know below…

More from Marla Diamond
  • Daphne

    I’m a supporter of the food cart getting grades. For many years I have NEVER bought from these carts, the store their carts in warehouses at night that are rampant with vermin and NOT to mention the fact that they are on streets corners for many hours a day. WHERE do they go to relieve themselves ? How are they exercising sanitary conditions when it’s time to wash their hands before serving hotdogs/pretzels/soda etc?
    There is a cart along Canal street just before the entrance of the Holland Tunnel, I was waiting in traffic one day and literally saw this guy sneeze holding his nose and then disgustingly looking at his hand and proceeded to wipe on his pants. They are GERMS on wheels, you would have to be STARVING out of your mind to buy from them. They could receive an A +++++ and I would still never buy !

  • Barre Flynn

    Letter grades sound good but if anyone has a brain they know this is meaningless. You can get an A and have bad food the next day. Although people want to look good a B grade may over the long term be safer than an A grade. These grades are very misleading and give the public a false sense of security.

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