New York City's street-meat vendors could soon be subject to health letter grades if one Queens lawmaker has it his way.
State Senator Jose Peralta will introduce a bill this week requiring the Department of Health to issue food carts letter grades, similar to those restaurants have posting in their windows for over a year.
"What type of food they're going to be eating, whether it's safe, whether it's healthy, that they do the same on the streets," said Peralta.
The sidewalk chefs would have to post their grades on their wagons, [Peralta] added, and fines for violators who don't would start at $50. Cart owners who clean up their act can pay $250 for an immediate reinspection as well.
The idea has previously received support from Mayor Bloomberg, who once told reporters "I love to eat from the street vendors...Personally, I would love to see ... a sign up there telling whether or not the guy washed his hands before he reaches in and pulls out the hot dog." HIzzoner added, "The fact is that this letter-grading system has done a great job for the public and industry alike."
But the Department of Health itself says it may not have the manpower to hand out A's, B's and C's to all of the city's food carts. Currently only 20 of the Department's 115 to 140 inspectors are assigned to grading the mobile meateries, making the mass grading process difficult. "Carts are mobile, making regular reinspections--such as those done at restaurants as part of grading-- more difficult," officials said.
And as for the actual food vendors, CBS had trouble finding any willing to talk on the subject. Sean Basinski, "Street Vendor Project" Director, however, said, "Most mobile food vendors want letter grades, just like restaurants receive. The vast majority of them sell clean, delicious food and they want to be recognized for that."