June 6, 2012 – The Health Department clarified mobile food vending regulations in an effort to help improve the sanitary practices of New York City’s vibrant street food culture. The reformulated regulations better explain equipment requirements to improve vendors’ sanitary practices and decrease the threat of food-borne illnesses, expand options for storing vending units overnight, and improve oversight of operations.
“New York City is the capital of mobile food vending and these modifications will make enjoying this part of the city’s culinary culture safer for diners,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We’re also clarifying the requirements for food vendors, making compliance simpler and more transparent.”
If the proposed regulations are adopted, permit holders, who may not always operate the cart or truck, will be required to appear in person when the cart or truck is inspected before the permit is issued. This will reinforce the role of the permit holder in adhering to high food safety standards. Unannounced inspections will continue to occur on the city streets during hours when vendors are operating so the Department can observe food preparation and handling. Tightened permitting procedures will also help the Department clamp down on the illegal renting of mobile food permits. Permit holders must notify the Department of all authorized vendors.
The changes, if adopted, will simplify equipment requirements that correlate to the type of food sold and cooking methods used to help vendors meet sanitary standards. A vending unit where raw meat is cooked, for example, has to be equipped with a sink for washing hands while a unit selling only prepackaged foods would not. Facilities that store trucks and carts overnight will have to maintain a daily log of the date and time vending units enter and exit.
While food carts have become a fixture on New York City streets, the proposed changes will help ensure that a balance is kept between the needs of both vendors and pedestrians. Cart size for all vendors that do not prepare food, including Green Carts that specialize in fresh fruits and vegetables, would be capped at five feet in width and ten feet in length. The size for all non-motor vehicle carts would be subject to the same size limits.
Vendors and consumers are invited to submit comments on the proposed rules by July 19 for a hearing on the proposal. The rules and a summary of the major proposed changes are available on the Department’s website. The summary will also be posted on the website soon in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Spanish, and Urdu. The Department will review public comments at the close of the comment period and issue a final regulation by the fall. The rule will go into effect 30 days after it is issued, unless the Department determines, based on public comment, that any particular provision should go into effect at a later date.
For more information on the proposal please see: www.nyc.gov/health/mobilefood.