Street Eats, Safe Eats: Results







Across the seven cities, findings were consistent: Food trucks and carts are every bit as clean and safe as restaurants and other types of brick-and-mortar food establishments. As Figure 1 shows, in recent years, violations per establishment were few, regardless of the category of food service. In six of the seven cities, violations by food trucks and carts ranged from just one to four violations per truck or cart, while restaurants averaged just four to eight. The exception, Seattle, appears to have had more frequent violations for both mobile vendors (nearly 14 per vendor) and restaurants (almost 17 per restaurant), because the city’s inspection regime weights each violation more than the other cities.

Figure 1: Average Food-safety Violations by Category of Food Service


Notes: In Louisville, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C., the “food truck” category includes both trucks and carts. Due to differing inspection regimes, comparisons across cities are not valid.


Not only were violations infrequent, but mobile vendors compared well to their brick-and-mortar counterparts, as shown in Figure 1, and this was confirmed by statistical analysis. In analyses for six of seven cities, food trucks and carts had fewer violations than restaurants, and the differences were statistically significant. In Seattle, even though mobile vendors had fewer violations on average than restaurants, upon statistical analysis, the difference was not statistically significant. This means mobile vendors and restaurants in Seattle performed about the same.


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