Food carts and mobile trucks are a New York City staple, So much so that there are guided tour groups to try various food carts. We often do not think twice about the 2 hot dogs from the guy who's been on the same corner for twelve years or the halal cart serving up chicken over rice and shish kebobs.
Most food carts only buy ice to keep their meats and drinks cold once, rarely twice day. Once the ice has melted, most don't bother to keep the meat cold no matter how hot it is and that often leaves meat smelling foul and going bad. Unused portions of Hot dogs, shish kebobs and chicken are then subject to another day of these less than ideal conditions. We do not think of the conditions our food is kept in because we assume there are regulations in place.
I have befriended vendors and over time seen them store away cooked chicken, hot dogs and shish kebobs for the next day. I have watched a roach crawl into a drawer where there was an open bag of chicken from a trash bag being hung on the cart and the vendor do nothing but shrug his shoulders. I have watched waterbugs crawl under carts and run around them. I have smelled the nauseating smell of bad rotting meat that was put onto a grill that was cooked and sold. The list can go on and on.
The Department of Health needs to;
Revamp laws and regulations concerning operations.
Monitor vendors more closely.
Provide more unannounced food and cleanliness inspections on site and issue a letter grade.
Create a coalition, association, watchdog or organization specifically for street and mobile vendors that can provide up to date informations on rules, relgulations, laws, and important notices concerning all things mobile and street vending.
Street and mobile vendors alike should be required to have their own trash bin no less than two feet from their cart and any sauces that are dairy based kept at a minimum temperature.
They should be required to maintain a clean area, carry a portable broom and dust pan to clean up any residual garbage left by their customers or themselves such as soda cans and napkins.
If restaurants must hold accountability then why not street and mobile vendors? they too should have letter grades, their meats and sauces should be inspected to check that it is being kept in proper conditions. If the Department of Health says there are too many to keep up with then maybe the City of New York should re-think the amount of permits they issue and get it to a more controllable number or require that a certain portion of their fees goes into hiring more inspectors.
Please sign the petition and demand that the Department of Health take action.