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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/mararie

New report shows that NYC’s food trucks are pretty damn dirty

By Clayton Guse
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Every restaurant in New York City is required to publicly post its score from the Health Department, allowing patrons to know that the establishment is (or isn't) up to code. But that regulation does not apply to food trucks across the city, and a handful of state senators are aiming to change that. 

On Tuesday, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of democratic politicians that tend to caucus with republicans in Albany, issued a report that details just how gross many of the city's mobile food vendors are. 

The report looked into health inspection data for food trucks over the past three years, with an emphasis on inspections from 2016. In total, the Health Department carried out 7,071 inspections of food trucks and carts last year, resulting in 7,861 violations, 234 temporary closures and 10 were closed on two different occasions.  

The analysis found that 35 percent of the inspections led to no violations being issued to the vendor, and a quarter of them resulted in multiple violations. A vast majority of the health inspections of food trucks in the city last year were in Manhattan, where there were a total of 5,044 violations issued to street vendors. Manhattan also had the highest number of violations per inspection, at 1.17. Here's a breakdown of violations per inspection by borough:

Further, the most common types of violations that food trucks and carts were busted for in 2016 are pretty damn gross. There were 452 violations issued for potentially hazardous food being held above 40 degrees, 372 violations of effective hair restraints and another 171 violations related to poorly maintained hand-washing facilities. 

The findings in the report aim to embolden a new bill that assigns letter grades to pushcarts and food trucks. State Senator Peralta, the bill's primary sponsor, said bringing the same placards to trucks and carts as restaurants across the city would bring "increased legitimacy to their businesses."

Just the same, it would allow discerning diners to see when a cheap eats vendor has the dreaded C letter grade. The report found that such a grade was issued to eight different food trucks and carts across the city last year, so that's fun. 

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