2017-07-12 / Front Page

Know What You Nosh From Food Vendors

By Liz Goff
It’s that time again. With hot summer temperatures searing local streets, officials at the city Department of Health (DOH) and the NYPD are warning the public to remain alert when purchasing food items from street vendors.

DOH officials said licensed vendors are a “best bet” when purchasing food at street fairs, festivals and on busy shopping strips. Unlicensed vendors often do not have proper cooling equipment to store and serve prepared food on hot summer days and nights, officials said.
“People are taking a health risk when they purchase food from vendors who are not licensed and regulated by the city,” DOH officials said.
Queens police officials said officers at local precincts 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 for years, urging them to come down hard on unlicensed food vendors.
“They pull up in vans or station wagons, open the car doors and sell food at crazy low prices,” one frustrated restaurant 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 the 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.”
Restaurant owners complain that the vendors take business away from them by snagging customers with rock bottom prices.  “But people don’t think about the possible consequences of bad or non-refrigerated food,” a Broadway restaurant owner said.
Police officials said local cops would continue to summon, arrest and confiscate items being sold by unlicensed food vendors – especially during heat waves when temperatures soar over 90 degrees for three or more consecutive days. Business owners and area residents are urged to call 311 to report unlicensed vendors or 911 to request immediate police response.
Shoppers have the right to ask a street food vendor for his/her license prior to making a purchase, health officials said. If the vendor is unlicensed, it’s in your best health interests to just walk away,” officials said.
Members of the public are urged to call 311 to determine if a food vendor is properly licensed, or to report unsafe or unsanitary conditions. You may also call 311 and ask for police response if you witness unsafe or questionable conduct by a street vendor, DOH officials said.

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