Fueled by public health concerns, mobile food vendors increasingly face regulations that either outright ban them or restrict where and when they can operate. But a new study from the Institute for Justice finds food trucks might be safer than most sit-down eateries.
The study, called “Street Eats, Safe Eats,” takes on the perception that food trucks and food carts are septic health hazards. After examining 260,000 food inspection records from seven large cities across the country with mobile food restrictions, the organization found that street vendors are cleaner than brick-and-mortar restaurants.
In Miami, for example, mobile food vendors averaged half as many violations as restaurants, according to the study. The rate of critical restaurant violations outpaced food trucks and carts by 61 percent.
IJ, a nonprofit public-interest law firm, characterizes such regulations as protectionist measures designed to squash or limit restaurant competition.
“Miamians love food trucks, but the city essentially bans food trucks from operating, except for special events,” said Angela C. Erickson, an IJ research analyst and author of the study. “The idea that street food is unsafe is a myth, and Miami’s ban on food trucks does not improve public health; it only stifles entrepreneurship and prevents Miamians from deciding where they want to eat lunch.”