Street meat shut down: LA says you must have a permit

The Los Angeles Times reports today about a crackdown on mobile food trucks on the streets of Southern California. Met with some resistance and conspiracy theories about whistle-blowing from competitors, police officials said the blitz was part of a one-day operation to clear the area of illegal vendors.

"They don’t have city and health department permits," said Lt. Dan Hudson, watch commander at the Los Angeles Police Department Wilshire Division. "Restaurants complain because the lunch trucks are taking their business, and they don’t have [proper] permits."

With more complex foods (other than just reheating cooked meats) comes more complicated (and potentially risky) preparation and handling steps. Multiple raw ingredients need to be kept at the right temperature, operators have to avoid cross-contamination and, keep bacteria and viruses off of their hands. All within the confines of a cart or trailer.

Operators must know (and care) about the risks associated with the products they sell. Health inspectors are part of the solution, but a good street vendor manages the risks before the inspector points them out.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.