Is street meat safe to eat?

During my undergraduate days in Canada I tended to grab a bite after hitting the town. Though I rarely do it now (BK burgers just aren’t made with the same care at 3am), I do recall scarfing down hotdogs from street vendors during the wee hours of the morning.

But is street meat, or any other food prepared on wheels, safe, asks the Hudson Reporter.

[S]hould customers trust food that’s stored and cooked in what’s essentially an old truck? Is the food kept in a cold – really cold – refrigerator? Is the food cooked at a temperature that will kill any bacteria in the meat? And how do the cooks wash their hands and utensils?

Alex Fernandez, a California native who sells south-western cuisine from a food truck in Jersey City, said,

“You wouldn’t believe the laws we have to follow. It’s more [regulated] than you think. It’s just like a restaurant. No different. We’re just on the sidewalk.”

Frank Sasso, health officer for Hoboken, where there are 33 food cart and food truck licenses, said,

“Both food trucks and food carts, which are generally hot dog stands, must have a stent thermometer to check the temperature of cooked foods…”

Vendors must also have a way to clean their hands. Food carts are required to have some type of hand sanitizer, but are not required to have water available for hand washing. Food trucks, as opposed to carts, are required to have a source of water for hand washing, although the water isn’t required to be hot. Carts must also have hand sanitizer in addition to the water.

Sasso noted that most food poisoning – from restaurants, supermarkets, home kitchens, and elsewhere – generally stems from improper storage or cooking temperatures.

Carts or trucks are annually inspected by the local health department.