Council Member Looks to Extend Letter Grades to Street Carts

A few weeks ago the city announced that restaurants would be forced to hang Department of Health issued letter grades in their window (California style).  Now, a city council member is trying to get that rule extended to food carts as well. (link via Eater) Naturally the Street Vendor Project is completely against it, and the complaint is practically identical to those leveled by  the brick and mortar restaurants: “The problem is that the tickets the health department gives have almost nothing to do with actual health and safety,” says Sean Basinski.  In other words, does a cart deserve a “B” because the vendor wasn’t displaying their license properly? Or had their drink cooler on the sidewalk? And how does that really relate to the “cleanliness” of the food.

There’s already a negative stigma attached to street food, and there’s no question that letter grades will do more to reinforce that notion.  But it’s hard to argue against full disclosure to the public, especially when it would create a more powerful incentive for food sellers of any kind to remain as clean as possible. What we can argue against (and many have for years) is the stupid DOH rules themselves, many of which have nothing to do with food safety whatsoever… and often end in the closing of perfectly clean restaurants for stupid, non-health-related issues.

The plus side?  Lines at popular street carts have been getting longer and longer (when it’s nice out)…  a B might be a good way to keep the lines shorter for the hard core fans who know better!  What do you guys think?  Letter grades seem like a good idea to me, even for carts… as long as they actually reflect the cleanliness of the food- not arbitrary rules that have nothing to do with getting people sick.

Attention NYC Resturaunts: You’ll All Be Graded on Your Performance From Here On Out!


  • after a while, folks probably will get desensitized to ratings in the C and above range. Odds are, nothing is going to happen. And even if it does, it only lasts for six hours!

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    depends on the criteria for grading. i would imagine there are way fewer things to grade for a cart or truck than for a brick store. but by the sounds of it i wouldn’t be surprised if they count dents in the cart against the vendor

  • food carts are effed.

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