New Regulations for Mobile Food Vendors

Aims To Improve Safety Of Consumers

The city Health Department’s new mobile food vending regulations went into effect last Thursday, Apr. 11, in a move to improve the sanitary practices of New York City’s street food vendors.

The regulations clarify equipment requirements, limit the size of pushcarts, and require documentation by facilities where vending units are stored overnight. The new rules, which were announced by the department last June, also make permit holders more accountable for actions that take place at their carts or trucks and help the department better detect the illegal renting of mobile food vending permits.

“New York City is the hub for mobile food vending,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “With more than 5,000 vendors on sidewalks throughout the five boroughs, it is critical that the food they sell is being handled safely. These new regulations will help protect the health of New Yorkers.”

Under the new rules, permit holders, who may not always operate the cart or truck, must now appear in person when the cart or truck is inspected before a permit can be issued. This effort is aimed at vendors who rent their permits and then do not oversee daily operations.

Beginning this summer, tickets for violations of the vending laws will be issued to the person with the vending permit, even if someone else was operating the unit when the violation occurred.

To help vendors meet sanitary standards, changes have been made to clarify equipment requirements and tailor them to the type of food sold and cooking methods used.

For example, a vending unit where raw meat is cooked 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, also known as commissaries, have to maintain a daily log of the date and time vending units enter and exit.

All of these standards are designed to promote safer food handling and decrease the likelihood of food-borne illness.

Finally, the new regulations will set the cart size at five feet in width and ten feet in length. The new maximum size will balance the needs of pedestrians who share the sidewalks with mobile food vendors. Vendors with oversized carts will be given time to comply with the new size restrictions.

There is no size restriction for food trucks, but truck size may be limited by motor vehicle and traffic laws.

The proposal was released for public comment in June 2012 and a public hearing was held in July 2012. The department made changes in response to comments and the final regulation was approved by the commissioner and released on Mar. 12.

A fact sheet summarizing the new regulation will be available by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov/ health/mobilefood. The fact sheet will be available in the following languages: English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Spanish, and Urdu.

For more information, including an educational video for mobile food vendors, visit www.nyc.gov.

More from Around New York