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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion Tuesday that will require food trucks and carts to post letter grades indicating the results of health department inspections.
The grading system will put the food trucks on par with restaurants throughout Los Angeles County, which are required to post the letter grades from “A” to “C” since 2008. Currently, the trucks will only be required to post the grades when operating in unincorporated portions of the county, as the individual cities within Los Angeles County must pass their own ordinances requiring the letter grade system. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, said he believes the cities will follow the county’s lead and require the grades to be posted, a swas the case with the grading system for restaurants.
“We believed it was the best way to ensure that the vast number of food trucks and carts are meeting the standards of public health,” Yaroslavsky said. “It is to protect the public from food poisoning and food-borne illnesses that can potentially occur in these trucks and carts. It is the one way we have found that is most effective in preventing those types of problems.”
The ordinance will go into effect on Nov. 18, following a 30-day period where county officials will work out the details of implementation. The truck operators will receive a letter grade when they renew their permit and are inspected, and will then be required to post it in a place that can easily be seen by members of the public. Yaroslavsky said the program will not be fully implemented until all of the county’s trucks and food carts renew their permits and are inspected over the next year. He added that he believes most people who eat at the trucks will welcome the safety measure.
“When the public comes to a truck to buy food and it has an ‘A’, they will have confidence in knowing that it meets the County Department of Public Health’s standards,” Yaroslavsky added. “Nobody in their right mind goes to a place with a ‘C’ grade with all of the other choices out there. We just wanted to extend this beyond the restaurants to the trucks.”
The grading system will not result in any new fees for the operators, and will be absorbed into the cost of conducting the annual inspection, Yaroslavsky added.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, said he supports the letter grading system and will be pushing for it to be adopted in Los Angeles. Numerous trucks routinely park on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile, prompting concerns about health and safety, as well as what some people believe is unfair competition for the restaurants in the area. LaBonge added that he is currently working on more regulations for food trucks, such as requiring them to be located in certain areas, and hopes the letter grading system can be implemented soon.
“I certainly welcome that. Public health is so important, so [the grading system] is a great thing,” LaBonge added. “We are dealing with all of the issues with food trucks right now, and we are trying to find a balance.”
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