Restaurants and Trucks: The Letter Grade Debate

The ongoing feud between restaurant owners and food truck owners continues to build, as food trucks come close to posting Health Department letter grades, just the way restaurants have been doing for years. Restaurant owners believe food trucks and carts should be obligated to post these ratings, based on the fact that people can get just as sick no matter where they eat.

Vinnie Mazzone who owns a restaurant called Chicken Master in Sheepshead Bay said, “Why are they not being embarrassed like we are with these stupid letter grades? If you are cooking, preparing and storing perishable items, there should be a letter grade on your cart. No question about it.”

Mobile food vendors are somewhat divided on the subject, as letter grades act to legitimize the industry but can also damage the food trucks’ image if they receive poor grades. As of now food trucks are regularly inspected by the Health Department, but restaurant owners are fighting for a bill that would require food trucks and carts to be held up to the same standards. The grades would essentially alert New Yorkers to which trucks and carts are the cleanest and those that are not.

Some food cart owners believe the proposed bill to be unfair because large restaurants have more space and a larger staff. However some mobile vendors support the bill, like Rex Velasquez who said, “At least you know if the cart is clean or not. I always keep my cart clean, so it doesn’t matter to me.”

Currently food vendors are required to complete an eight-hour food-handling course and obtain a food vendor license as well as a food cart permit. The food-handling rules dictate that vendors must wash their hands whenever touching raw meat, and never put raw meat near fresh food. They’re also required to have sinks with hot and cold running water if they’re cooking hot food, and a sink for wastewater and adequate ventilation

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: