Food Trucks Receive an A

By Angela C. Erickson
Your Voice Contributor

Louisville’s food trucks are a popular stop on a nice day. But do you ever wonder whether a lobster roll or doughnut from a food truck is safe?

A new study will reassure you: Louisville’s food trucks provide safe eats.

The Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm, published a new report on June 10 called “Street Eats, Safe Eats.” The study found that both food trucks and restaurants on average earned A grades from the Louisville Metro Department of Health.

Between 2010 and July 2013, food trucks and stands averaged over 98 out of a possible 100 points on Metro’s safety inspection reports. That is a better safety record than both restaurants and other types of food establishments (like grocery stores, cafeterias and caterers), which averaged 95.6 points and 96.5 points, respectively.

The Institute found that same story elsewhere after reviewing thousands of food safety inspection reports from health departments in six other major cities. Similar to Louisville, health inspections from Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and Washington D.C. indicate that food trucks and other mobile vendors are just as clean, if not cleaner, than fixed establishments.

In fact, in almost every city surveyed, food trucks and carts performed better than brick-and-mortar restaurants. In Seattle, they performed just as well.

It shouldn’t be surprising that mobile vendors are just as clean and sanitary as restaurants. Both food trucks and restaurants rely on word of mouth and repeat customers. A good or bad experience can quickly spread across social media and affect future sales. Additionally, as a customer of a food truck, you can easily look into the truck and watch as your food is being prepared, unlike most restaurants.

Food trucks provide consumers more dining options, create jobs and improve the overall quality of life in Louisville. Thanks to low start-up costs, food trucks give new entrepreneurs the opportunity to get into business for themselves at a fraction of what it would cost to open a restaurant. Louisville’s Grind food truck is a great example of the success entrepreneurs can have with an idea and a food truck, eventually growing a successful business into a brick-and-mortar establishment.

Policymakers in Louisville should remain focused on one goal: the health and safety of their citizens. And the recipe for that is simple: inspections. Unfortunately, Louisville’s vending regulations go much further by, among other things, banning food trucks from setting up within 150 feet of a restaurant, effectively blocking access to much of the downtown area. These rules do nothing to protect consumers and instead frustrate honest competition while stifling mobile entrepreneurship, destroying jobs and limiting consumer choice. Louisville’s food trucks provide innovative, affordable and safe fare to the dining public. They should be allowed to roam freely.

 Angela C. Erickson is the author of the Institute for Justice report “Street Eats, Safe Eats.”