2011-05-25 / Front Page

Be Wary Of Street Food

City Department of Health (DOH) officials are once again warning city residents to be alert when purchasing food from unlicensed street vendors.

DOH officials said licensed vendors are a best bet when purchasing food at street fairs, festivals and on busy shopping corridors. Unlicensed vendors often do not have proper cooling equipment to store and serve prepared food.

“People are taking a health risk when they purchase food from vendors who are not licensed and regulated by the city,” the officials said.

Officials at the 114th Precinct said police officers are constantly on the lookout for shady vendors or those who are preparing and serving food in a questionable manner

Restaurant owners along commercial strips in Astoria and Long Island City have been battling with city officials to come down hard on unlicensed food vendors.

“They pull up in vans or station wagons, set up shop in the vehicles and sell food at crazy low prices,” one owner said. “People see low prices and common sense goes out the window.”

Restaurant and diner owners complain that the unlicensed vendors treat summonses issued by Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) inspectors as “a price of doing business”.

Owners said the vendors remain on the street after they receive the DCA summonses because, “It’s cheaper than renting a store, paying insurance and everything else involved in running a legitimate business.”


Meanwhile, the vendors take business away from restaurants by getting customers with their “rock bottom” prices, the owners said.

Police officials said local cops would continue to summon, arrest and confiscate items being sold by unlicensed food vendors especially during the upcoming summer months. Business owners and area residents are urged to call 311 to report unlicensed vendors or to request immediate police response. 

A DCA spokesperson said shoppers have the right to ask a street food vendor to see their license prior to making a purchase. If the vendor is unlicensed, shoppers are urged to call 311 for police response, the spokesperson said.

—Liz Goff


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