Public comments for: Grading of Mobile Food Vending Units (Amendments to the Chapter 6 of Title 24 of the RCNY)

Comments

Comment:
While I feel that the grading system is a great way to improve food safety standards for mobile vendors, I am opposed to installing location tracking devices on these units for inspections. A lot of these vendors are immigrants trying to make a living and with the current climate in our nation it seems like a location tracking device can be used against them in some capacity. The grading system proposal seems fair but may need to be modified to account for different working conditions that mobile vendors have to deal with. The location tracking device proposal seems like it would become a huge issue and create much more controversy creating civil unrest and deterring others from contributing to this sector of the industry.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
Requiring vending units to be equipped with a location sharing device is dangerous for vendors in this current political climate. Food service workers are being detained and deported while doing their jobs even here in NY, and collecting information like this- that could be used in immigration matters, potentially puts immigrant families in harms way. In addition, adding regulations like this make vendors jobs much more difficult for very little benefit. Do not require units to be equipped with location sharing devices.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
While I am not opposed to letter grades, I am very concerned about the proposal to place GPS tracking devices on all of the trucks and carts in the city. This seems like a gross invasion of privacy, and I am concerned about how the city plans to store and use the data from these tracking devices. NYC calls itself a 'sanctuary city' - would the GPS tracking devices not be antithetical to that notion? What regulatory measures will be put in place to ensure that the data is not misused? How can vendors be sure that their location data is not being stored, misused, or sold? Further, according to the proposed rule, the GPS devices would be owned and installed by the DOH. If the device malfunctions, the vendor would need to bring their truck or cart to the DOH in order to have it fixed. This will take away from potential earnings, as we all know that a vendor does not make money if they are not working! GPS tracking devices place a burden on mobile food vendors that owners of brick and mortar establishments do not share. Mobile food vendors are hardworking people, and their businesses provide a valuable contribution to our city. They're part of our culture and our appeal. Let's implement letter grades, but let's do it in a way that is respectful of mobile food vendors' privacy, and makes sense for their businesses.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
For years, this agency, has allowed leasing of food cart permits controlled by “operators” who have no legal connection to the permit. While I support the intent to further promote food safety standards, this proposal fortifies the current black market. This regulation sneaks in a major concession to the black market operators who have monopolized the mobile food cart industry for years. Unlike restaurants, the law specifically states, “one permit, one owner” that cannot be leased or sold. This ruling merely turns its blind eye to a black market it created through a shady permit issuance system, compounded by the leasing of permits and actually decreases the permit holder’s (“permitee”) responsibility by allowing the letter grade/GPS system to be placed squarely in the hands of “operators”, who have no direct legal connection to the permitee.Page 3 states that the unit’s “operator”, not the permitee or salaried employee, may decide how a grade should be handled upon initial inspection. Further, Footnote1 allows the permit holder to make an “arrangement” with DOHMH for the “operator” to represent him/her relative to re-inspection. This directly contradicts all efforts to eradicate the leasing of permits and further legitimizes the black market. DOHMH cannot allow permitees to “arrange” for any involvement by an “operator” with no legal relationship to the sanitary conditions of his/her food operation which now under law involves letter grades and GPS systems. How is “operator” defined? What is the legal connection between an operator and permit holder? Is the operator a salaried employee? Unless the term, “operator” is clearly defined, no matter how many rules and regulations, operators who lease permits will find a way around it. These regulations must be very clear and unambiguous that the permit holders or designated salaried employee(s) with direct legal connection to the permitee are accountable to DOHMH for all inspections and not left to shadow “operators”; otherwise, the permit-leasing merry-go-round will continue- new permit- new illegal lease- same shady black-market operators with no legal connection to the permit holder will conduct business with DOHMH. For this law to work, the permitee/designated salaried employee(s) must be directly involved in the inspection/letter grading process. If the permitee isn’t directly involved, this law to further regulate the food cart industry and promote high food safety standards will be a major concession to the black market.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
In order for the letter grading for vending carts to be successful for all concerned parties, namely, the general public, DOHMH and the permit holders, it has to be done correctly. The proposed regulations regarding the letter grades legitimizes DOHMH’s policy of allowing the illegal transfer of permits, which is the most critical of violations. I suggest that the permit owner or a salaried employee of the permit owner be present for the letter grade inspection. If neither is present, DOHMH should post a “Grade Pending” sign on the cart and give an exact date for re-inspection at which time the permit holder or salaried employee must be present. The “Grade Pending” sign should also include a notice to the general public to notify DOH through 311, if the cart is operating after the date of re-inspection which will be an automatic removal of the permit. The inspection should be at least two weeks from the initial visit to allow the permit owner time to enter the operators name on the official operator list for the permitted cart which would verify employment. Conduct the re-inspection if the operator is authorized to use the cart; if not, immediately remove the permit from the cart and have the permit operator go through judicial channels. The success of food vending weighs heavily on establishing a clientele. Which means that you have to be in the same location every day. The overwhelming majority of food carts are in the same location every day of operation. For that reason a GPS system may be unnecessary.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I do not believe that mobile food carts should receive a letter grade as restaurants. Although, yes, it is crucial to comply with regulations for maintaining food at the proper temperatures, other aspects of a random inspection may not provide an overall picture of the pushcart. For example, vendors deal with the weather elements. It may be very busy, and something may accidentally spill, or a customer may spill something either inside or outside the pushcart. It is imperative to properly clean and maintain a pushcart daily to the utmost sanitary conditions, however, as stated, the course of a morning or afternoon in a pushcart, with fast, demanding service, it is not always possible to make sure that something doesn't spill, or that the wind or weather may affect things as well. In closing, although there is no denying that the food must be kept at proper temperatures to ensure food safety, I believe that giving a food cart a formal Letter Grade, like those given to permanent dining establishments, is totally unfair. The conditions are not the same for a mobile vendor as they are for a stationary food establishment. Thank you.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
This is a must. There is a reason they are called "Roach Coaches." Letter grades imply a need to maintain standards for inspection which protect ALL New Yorkers. We also need to see NY State DOT License plates for these food trailers. None of them have any state license plates for road way use, and taxes, which puts New Yorkers at risk for accidents and injuries.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
Dear public officials, please don't try to fix it if it ain't broken. City cart system works ok; it doesn't require any more regulations. It is difficult and expensive to operate a small business in NYC as it is. Please, don't introduce even more regulations. Regards, Boris Itin.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I am 100% in favor of using the letter grade system for all mobile food carts. I think it is important to guarantee food is kept at safe temperatures to prevent any type of issue. I feel the letter grade is very important at all NYC restaurants, and I think food carts should fall into that same category. I would actually be more inclined to purchase food from a mobile food cart with an A letter grade. In my opinion it would only help the food cart business. Love the idea and hope it goes through.
Agency: DOHMH