Food carts grade bill makes it into City Council

Food carts grade bill makes it into City Council

A new City Council bill would make it happen.

Food vendors already undergo inspections, and a letter grade system could make that clear.
Food vendors already undergo inspections, and a letter grade system could make that clear. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

Get your Grade “A” street meat!

A bill was introduced in the City Council Wednesday that, if passed, would require food trucks and carts to display letter grades, much like restaurants do.

Queens Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who introduced the bill, said the legislation will ensure the city’s Health Department can perform regular inspections and dole out grades, like A, B or C. Letter grades have been given to restaurants since 2010.

“I think it’s important,” Koslowitz said. “Lets say there’s a cart that has an A and then there’s a cart down the block that has a C, where are you going?”

The bill will go through the Committee on Health, and a spokesman for Koslowitz said he expects it to be voted on sometime this summer.

A Health Department spokeswoman said the agency will review the bill.

“It will bring them better business,” Koslowitz said. “Now if I see an A and I’m hungry, I’ll have no qualms about going.”

Yehia Moustafa, 53, has worked at a breakfast food cart for three years and welcomes the letter grading.

“The customers, they have to know,” said Moustafa, who was parked in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday. “A lot of people know about the stickers. I think I’m going to get an A.”

Kazi Uddin, 45, rents two Halal food carts and said the letter grading can only be good for business.

“They will know the quality of the food,” said Uddin, who boasted that Mayor Bill de Blasio once ate at his Brooklyn cart when he was campaigning for mayor. “If they’re eating, they have to know it’s good food.”

Sammy Ali, who has one food truck in downtown Manhattan, wasn’t sure if the letter grades would help or hurt business.

“Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad,” said Ali, 43. “If it brings more business, no problem.”

Sean Basinski, the director of the Street Vendor Project, said many people don’t even realize food trucks and carts are inspected regularly by the Health Department. Letter grades, he said, would change that.

“Vendors have been clambering for letter grades for years now,” he said. “It’s the legitimacy and the respect with being able to put up that A or B. That’s a way of recognizing vendors.”

Anna Rosyaykina, 39, who was visiting the city from Wisconsin, said she would definitely make decisions on where to eat based on letter grades.

“It’s helpful to know,” said Rosyaykina, who was traveling with a friend from Russia. “I don’t want to end up with food poisoning. I think it will be a great incentive to keep it clean — otherwise how do you know?”

Roman Woodcock, an organizer from Valley Stream, Long Island, said giving trucks grades like restaurants should be a no-brainer. Woodcock, 49, said he used all available tools to decide where he should eat, including the letter grade, and reviews online, like Yelp.

“If they serve food, why not?” he said. “It’s 2017, why not? Everybody wants peace of mind that the food has been handled properly.”

But Quinton Rocke, a 19-year-old student from Far Rockaway, said he doesn’t see grading food trucks as necessary.

“If you go to a good truck, you can see what you’re getting, said Rocke. “If I want to get something from a food cart, I’m going to get it regardless.”

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