February 3, 2011
You follow them on Twitter and dine on their increasingly eclectic curbside offerings, from Cuban medianoche sandwiches to passionfruit-flavored Hawaiian shaved ice.
Now you can be the first one on the block to spot that bright new letter grade in the window.
In January, Los Angeles County’s new letter-grading system took effect for mobile food vendors with the goal of making it easy for curbside diners to find out whether their favorite truck is passing muster with the Public Health department.
Today, public health officials demonstrated what goes into an inspection, using the popular Grilled Cheese Truck as an example. (It passed with a perfect 100%.)
“Once again, Los Angeles County is at the vanguard of the food safety industry,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said in helping to kick off the demonstration. (See press conference here.)
The ordinance to extend restaurant-style letter grades to food trucks, the first of its kind in the nation, was approved by the Board of Supervisors last October.
There are currently about 6,000 permitted food trucks in the county. From their construction site and factory yard origins, the trucks in recent years have expanded to serve a new clientele hungry not just for tacos and hot dogs but also for more exotic delights like Indian snacks served “desi” (curbside) style or Asian fusion plates.
Still, one of the trucks’ major assets—mobility—had also posed a potential headache for customers wondering who owns and operates the trucks, who inspects them, and whether their food is safe to eat.
Even before the advent of letter-grading, food trucks—like other restaurants in Los Angeles County—were subject to inspection and evaluation by public health authorities. (Here’s the detailed food-truck inspection guide, and all inspection records must be made available to customers upon request or posted online here.)
County officials worked closely with the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association in refining the new program; here’s the list of their members. Many of them have websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to keep current and potential new customers up to date on schedules and routes.
Meanwhile, as food trucks’ visibility has increased, conflicts have sometimes cropped up between the mobile facilities and brick-and-mortar restaurants.
A task force convened last fall recently offered a series of recommendations to address concerns on both sides.
At today’s demonstration, Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of Public Health, said the new food truck letter-grading program builds on the public popularity of the county’s restaurant program, which went into effect in 1998.
He said the program had proven extremely effective in reducing foodborne illness in the county—a benefit that now has wheels attached.
December 8, 2010
L.A. County’s top public health official wants to put the squeeze on those ubiquitous LAP-BAND ads.
In a Dec. 7 letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding asks the agency to investigate whether widespread promotion of the LAP-BAND by the 1-800-GET-THIN weight loss clinics is misleading the public by failing to disclose enough about the potential risks of such surgery.
Fielding, the county’s director of public health, said while bariatric surgery can be appropriate for some severely obese patients, it’s not for “the vast majority of individuals, and should be reserved for those who have failed other approaches.”
He also took aim at the assertion in the advertising campaign that “Diets fail!” which he said undercuts the importance of healthy, common-sense lifestyle choices.
“Misleading advertisements erode the ability of the majority of the public, who are currently either overweight or obese, to fairly consider alternative weight management options, and for ‘normal’ weight individuals to be concerned about behavior that increases risk of weight gain,” Fielding said in the letter.
Fielding’s letter comes as Allergan, which manufactures the LAP-BAND system, is seeking approval to broaden the use of its product by allowing less obese people to use it. Lowering the standards to include people with a body mass index of 35, or 30 if they have other conditions, could mean more than 2 million people in L.A. County would be eligible for such surgery, Fielding said. Currently, most patients must have a body mass index of at least 40, or 35 with certain other conditions, or be more than 100 pounds overweight, to be considered eligible for LAP-BAND surgery.
An FDA advisory panel last week voted in favor of the proposed expansion to less obese patients.
Anyone who’s driven or watched television in Los Angeles County has likely seen the billboards and bus ads touting LAP-BAND and heard the 1-800-GET-THIN jingle. A sampling of the ads were included with Fielding’s letter to the FDA.
Misleading promotional messages, especially if the device becomes available to more people, may prove to be a disincentive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle because they create the “false impression that there is a very simple, fast, effective and permanent fix” for weight loss, Fielding said
In an interview, Fielding said one purpose of his letter is to have the FDA clarify who bears responsibility for fully disclosing any potential risks associated with a medical device.
A spokeswoman for Allergan said her company had no role in the billboard and current TV advertising campaigns. “Allergan doesn’t control, manage or have any input on those ads,” said spokeswoman Cathy Taylor, who said her company would not comment on others’ promotional efforts involving the device.
Representatives for 1-800-GET-THIN could not be reached.
Fielding’s letter was directed to Dr. Herbert Lerner, acting director of the FDA’s Reproductive, Gastro-Renal and Urological Devices Center for Devices and Radiological Heath.
Fielding urges Lerner to take steps to ensure that the LAP-BAND promotional campaign “does not constitute misbranding of a restricted device.”
Fielding is not alone in voicing concerns about the potential expansion of the device’s use. Others, including the National Women’s Health Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Research Center for Women and Families also have raised questions. Before voting in favor of the proposed expanded use for the LAP-BAND, the FDA advisory panel heard testimony from New York attorney Stephanie Quatinetz, whose 27-year-old daughter died after LAP-BAND surgery.
December 2, 2010
Responding to wide concerns over the safety of raves, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission this week told event promoters they must seek the panel’s approval at least 60 days before their next scheduled show at the historic facility.
The commission action came in lieu of reinstating a ban on the highly popular electronic music festivals that was put in place after the overdose death of a 15-year-old girl at last June’s Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum. The two-day event, which drew 185,000 fans, prompted emergency medical officials to call for an end to the shows because of the high numbers of Ecstasy-related drug overdoses.
Following the girl’s death, the nine-member joint county, city and state commission adopted a moratorium on raves, proposed by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a member of the panel. Yaroslavsky on Wednesday proposed that the board require the Coliseum staff and Electric Daisy Carnival promoter to seek the commission’s approval at least 60 days before the next show in June.
The commission will examine plans to ensure the safety and health of attendees. Many of those measures are detailed in a series of recent recommendations by the county’s public health department.
The commission will also study the impact of the festival in determining how to move forward. “If we can’t control it,” Yaroslavsky said, “then the promoters are going to have to find another place.”
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a motion by Yaroslavsky and Supervisor Don Knabe to adopt the series public health department recommendations, the product of a multi-jurisdictional task force.
December 2, 2010
Public health officials are urging shots for anyone who ate a sandwich from Jerry’s Deli in Westwood on certain dates in November, after an employee there came down with hepatitis A.
The dates are November 18, 21, 23 and 24. The public health department said those who may have been exposed should get an immune globulin shot or a hepatitis A vaccination no later than 14 days after their exposure to prevent or reduce illness.
People who ate food other than sandwiches aren’t considered to be at risk. Only the Westwood branch of Jerry’s Deli is affected.
Affected diners should contact their personal physician promptly about getting a shot. If that’s not possible, immune globulin and hepatitis A vaccine are also available at some county clinics through Dec. 8. For more information, call 211 or click here. The Department of Public Health also has compiled this Q&A.
November 18, 2010
Jean Tremaine would like to interrupt the coming feeding frenzy with a public service announcement:
Thanksgiving dinner is a meal, “not an all-you-can-eat buffet that starts in the morning and goes through the weekend.”
Not that Tremaine, director of the county’s public health nutrition program, wants to be a turkey day buzz-kill.
By all means, she says, enjoy those once-a-year specialties. (Especially if depriving yourself at dinner means you’ll make up for it with a chocolate binge at home later.)
But come in with a game plan. Eating strategically is more than just a way to strike a blow for eating sanity at a meal that can easily weigh in at 3,000 calories or more.
It’s also a chance to create a healthy eating pattern for all of the holiday temptations ahead.
“Heading into the overeating season, it’s a good opportunity to set the tone and come out of this relatively unscathed,” says Tremaine, a 23-year county veteran whose department oversees nutritional education programs, helping to translate healthy eating practices into individualized approaches for L.A.’s ethnically diverse communities.
Otherwise, if you don’t watch it, “you’re in a food coma for the months of December and January.”
To stay out of that state—and to do your part to combat America’s obesity epidemic—here are a few of Tremaine’s tips for navigating the Thanksgiving bounty.
1. Know your must-have dish, and then take it easy on the rest.
“The most important thing to me is the pumpkin pie. My sister makes it. It’s just the classic recipe off the can, with a little more spices.”
2. Concentrate on the people around the table.
“Enjoy the socializing and not focus so much on the food. It’s called thanks giving. Think about what’s good in your life.”
3. Divide and conquer your dinner plate.
Load half your plate with vegetables (preferably not the kind that come doused in canned soup and topped with fried onions.) Leave one-quarter of the plate for turkey (no skin, please) and the rest for a starch of your choice. “Because there are so many simple carbohydrates, I skip some of them. I don’t need stuffing and mashed potatoes and a roll.”
4. Make the pre-dinner nibbles healthy.
“Normally, a Thanksgiving dinner starts hours before dinner.” Instead of “high fat dip, pretzels and peanuts,” offer guests seasonal fruit like sliced Fuyu persimmons, or a bowl of Satsuma tangerines.
5. Take it easy on the alcoholic beverages.
“Limit the booze. It’s high in calories and it lowers your eating inhibitions.” If you do imbibe, alternate your drinks with glasses of water.
None of this should make you think that Tremaine is some kind of joyless anti-food crusader. On the contrary, she’s the kind of person who enjoys seafood-eating vacations in places like Sicily or Sardinia. But, as a longtime Weight Watcher, she has learned how to combat a holiday tradition of “eat until you hurt.”
“A couple of decades ago, I stopped doing that,” says Tremaine, 63. “It’s a wonderful feeling not to eat until you hurt.”
And she thinks a less gluttonous approach can help people find more meaning in the holiday along the way.
“It’s really an occasion for reflection,” she says, “to ask ‘What am I grateful for?’ ”
November 9, 2010
At 63, John Viernes admittedly didn’t blend into the crowd. For one thing, he was wearing more clothes.
But there he was, director of Los Angeles County’s substance abuse and prevention office, positioned at the entrance of the Sports Arena, handing out 3-by-5 cards about the drug Ecstasy to the throngs at last month’s Monster Massive electronic music festival.
“This is really cool,” Viernes says he was told by a number of concertgoers, who actually kept the material. That included the scantily clad girl who gave him a high-five.
The cards—among dozens of recommendations offered this week by a task force on “rave” safety—represent a departure of sorts for the public health department as it experiments with a more credible way to connect with and influence its target audience.
The glossy, colorful cards carry the inherent message that public health officials know that some concertgoers are going to take Ecstasy and want to help them “minimize potential harms” by offering guidance on, among other things, the signs of an overdose, how to keep properly hydrated and the potentially lifesaving importance of keeping doses low and infrequent.
Viernes said some attendees seemed taken aback by the county’s open-minded approach. “I told them to read all the way to the bottom,” Viernes says, where the cards (which were funded by concert promoters) state: “The only way to completely avoid the risks is to avoid the drug, enjoy the music and dancing instead.”
Since the overdose death last summer of a 15-year-old girl who’d attended the annual Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum, these huge electronic music festivals have come under intense scrutiny from health and public safety officials. Emergency room doctors have said that they prepare for concert nights as they would for such “multi-casualty incidents” as earthquakes because of the number of Ecstasy overdoses. Some critics called for an outright ban of raves at public venues, which reap considerable income from renting their facilities to concert promoters.
In the wake of the Electric Daisy Carnival, which drew a stunning 185,000 people during its two-day run in June, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe to create a task force comprised of public and private sector representatives to take a deeper look at the issues and come up with ways to enhance safety and educate the public on the perils of Ecstasy, a synthetic amphetamine that has become the drug of choice among a growing number of young teens.
In fact, last year the Los Angeles Unified School District sent an “information alert” to principals warning of a “sharp rise in the incidents of ecstasy use in our middle schools and high schools” that led some campuses “to call paramedics for students passed out at school.”
On Monday, the task force submitted to the board 42 recommendations encompassing such areas as emergency medical services, health precautions, law enforcement activities, alcohol policies, venue restrictions and public education campaigns. Participants, including concert promoters, have praised the effort for getting everyone in the same room and giving the issue the high priority that it deserves.
In a statement, a spokesman for Electric Daisy Carnival promoter Insomniac said: “We look forward to implementing these recommendations, in conjunction with Insomniac’s existing safety and security measures, to enhance the safety of events throughout the county while preserving the quality and fun of music fans’ experience.”
Already, some of the recommendations have been piloted at two festivals at the Sports Arena, where the crowds are a fraction of those at the Coliseum. Perhaps most significant for the moment, no one under 18 was allowed to attend the events and a medical station with a physician and nursing staff was set up inside the venue.
Cathy Chidester, director of the county’s emergency medical services agency, says the medical station eliminated the need for many people to be transported to overburdened emergency rooms, a significant change from the past.
Chidester, who attended the last two raves at the Sports Arena, says roving paramedics and emergency medical technicians brought a variety of ailing concertgoers to the physician, most of whom were “slightly altered and needed to be watched until the drug levels [in their systems] went down.” In the past, she says, these people would be transported to hospitals.
Meanwhile, outside the arena, another substantial change had taken root: the number of Los Angeles Police officers deployed in the parking lot had soared to 450 from the 250 assigned to the Coliseum’s Electric Daisy Carnival.
LAPD Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon says most everyone on the task force wanted to keep the raves alive so people could enjoy themselves. “But I don’t want to sanction a drug party either,” says Gannon, who is not happy about using officers “who are normally patrolling the streets of South L.A.”. The goal, he says, is to deter gate crashers and try to shut down drug sales outside so it becomes less problematic on the inside.
Because of the burden on the system, Gannon says he thinks concert promoters should be forced to pick up the tab. “I’ve had conversations with Councilman [Bernard] Parks. We don’t come close to agreeing.” Gannon says the former LAPD chief “thinks I over-deploy. I respectfully disagree. It’s been a long time since he’s deployed officers.”
Parks says he does, in fact, believe that deployment levels at the electronic music festivals have been disproportionate to the problems. He says Gannon’s desire to dry up parking lot drug sales is commendable. “But he should probably call in the Sheriff’s Department, the National Guard and the military if that’s his goal. There’s been drug usage at concerts since before his birth.”
Parks says that festival promoters at the Coliseum and Sports Arena should not be forced to pay for unnecessary officers outside the facility. “The fact that they [LAPD] have chosen to over deploy is on their dime not the dime of the promoter.”
Meanwhile, work continues on the educational component of the campaign. A public service announcement on the dangers of Ecstasy is being prepared for airing at venues and possibly on ticket services.
Financed by promoters, it’ll include such big-name DJ’s as Will.i.am and Tommie Sunshine, who looks into the camera and says: “Rolling on Ecstasy can cause heart problems, brain damage, stroke and possibly death.”
The task force, led by Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, is asking the Board of Supervisors to adopt the recommendations as “general policy direction” for electronic music festivals countywide and to encourage promoters and sponsoring entities to get on board, too.
Updated 12/7/10: The Board of Supervisors, acting on a second motion by Supervisors Yaroslavsky and Knabe, unanimously adopted the task force’s key recommendations as general policy direction for all electornic music festivals in Los Angeles County. Those key recommendations include, among other things, ensuring the presence of onsite medical and health personnel, requiring attendees to be 18 or older, creating a threat assessment and action plan for each event and distributing harm reduction materials to concertgoers.
The board also directed the Department of Public Health to report back by the end of September, 2011, with an evaluation of the succcess or failure of health and safety measures implemented at all major electronic music festivals in L.A. County between June of this year and August, 31, 2011.
October 29, 2010
If you haven’t checked your home for sources of lead exposure, this would be a good week to start. The county Department of Public Health, in observance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, is putting out the word about common sources of lead that can cause health problems, especially for children. The main cause of lead poisoning in Los Angeles County children is exposure to peeling lead-based paint, which is commonly found in houses, apartments, and buildings built before 1978. Other sources of lead exposure include contaminated ground soil, lead dust from work clothes, folk remedies like Azarcón and Greta, and imported toys and candy.
“In 2009, 671 children in Los Angeles County had seriously elevated blood-lead levels, which is entirely preventable,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of public health. “Lead can seriously affect a child’s brain and nervous system and may cause learning and behavioral problems.” A blood lead test is the only way to identify and confirm elevated lead levels in children.
Parents who are concerned about their children’s exposure to lead are urged to ask their child’s doctor about lead testing. Free materials in many languages, as well as answers to questions on lead poisoning prevention, are available by calling 1-800-LA-4-LEAD or online here. Parents who do not have a doctor for their child can also call the hotline for referrals to free and low-cost health services for children and teens.
October 13, 2010
As neighborhood cafes go, Julienne would seem to have it all—a charming setting in upscale San Marino with hordes of loyal patrons who throng the sidewalk waiting for a table at breakfast or lunch.
Julienne also has one of L.A. County’s most important food preparation status symbols: an “A” from the public health department. But you wouldn’t know it by looking in the café’s window.
Letter grades—displayed in restaurants and markets throughout Los Angeles County and soon to be posted on food trucks—are nowhere to be seen in San Marino. The same goes for Avalon, La Habra Heights, Sierra Madre and Signal Hill.
For Terrance Powell, those cities are the ones that got away.
Since the restaurant ordinance went into effect in 1998, Powell has been the public health department’s man on the front lines of getting municipalities within the county to adopt the law. Over the years, virtually every city with food-serving businesses has gotten onboard (with the exception of Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon, which have their own health departments to inspect restaurants and don’t issue letter grades.)
That leaves the five holdouts, with about 160 eateries among them, including the lone food-serving establishment in La Habra Heights—the Hacienda Golf Club. Together, the five cities’ restaurants and markets represent a tiny fraction of the 40,097 establishments across the county that currently post letter grades.
Powell, a top official in the public health department’s environmental health division, said his persuasion initiative “simply stopped when we got to 99%.”
Restaurants in cities that haven’t adopted the ordinance still are required to be inspected by the county, and their grades are posted online. But no letter grades are displayed at the establishments—even if individual restaurateurs would like to do so—unless their city councils have adopted the county ordinance.
Explaining why San Marino hasn’t joined the crowd, Mayor Dennis Kneier said he’s not sure the measure is right for his city.
“Things are working fine the way they are,” Kneier said. He’s been on the council just 3 1/2 years, so he’s not sure why the county’s restaurant ordinance wasn’t adopted by his city in the early years.
While he said he doesn’t have any strong opinions on the issue one way or the other, he said he was “not going to be a champion” of bringing the matter before the San Marino City Council.
“If it came before me,” he said, “I would give it due consideration.”
Some local officials seemed surprised to learn that their city’s eateries and markets are not among those posting grades.
“Oh gosh,” said Gary Jones, Signal Hill’s community development director. “In my mind’s eye, I’ve seen letters posted in Signal Hill. But have I really seen letters posted in Signal Hill? Maybe not.”
He said the current city council would likely be amenable to adopting the ordinance—along with the new one requiring letter grade posting for food trucks.
“I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to adopt it,” he said. “Everyone wants to know what they’re eating.”
Powell, a county veteran of 23 years, has done his share of presentations before local city councils—and expects to do more in the weeks and months ahead as outreach on the food truck posting ordinance begins.
He figures it’ll be an easier sell than when the restaurant ordinance first was introduced 12 years ago. He said there are several reasons for that: the program has proven to be extremely popular with the public, studies have found fewer reported hospitalizations for food-related illnesses since it took effect and surveys indicate that the posted grades are good for business (at least for the eateries that rank an “A.”)
But that wasn’t always the case. Beverly Hills lagged behind other cities in adopting the ordinance, as did Duarte. And South Pasadena initially adopted the ordinance but then decided to opt out; the city since has opted in again.
As for the remaining holdouts? They’re welcome to join in any time, Powell said. “It’s an open invitation. The evidence is now overwhelming.”
And if they don’t, he believes the eating public deserves an explanation.
“If the public doesn’t see a grade,” he said, “they should ask their city if they’ve adopted it, and if not, why not?”
September 14, 2010
As Los Angeles County prepares for a new public health initiative to bring restaurant-style letter grades to the region’s growing food truck fleet, it’s also setting its sights on the ubiquitous—and frequently renegade—pushcarts that peddle everything from fresh fruit to bacon-wrapped hotdogs.
A proposed ordinance scheduled for a vote by the Board of Supervisors next week initially would bring the letter grading process—including more frequent inspections and a requirement that the itinerant vendors provide the county with information on their routes—to an estimated 6,000 mobile food trucks. If the ordinance amending the county code is approved by supervisors, the grading system would be extended to some 3,500 food carts by July 1, 2011.
The move comes as Los Angeles’ mobile food scene continues to boom, with trucks now peddling everything from the traditional tacos and breakfast burritos to Korean BBQ, grilled cheese sandwiches and red velvet mocha whoopee pies.
Mobile food purveyors “are becoming more common, and also people are asking us: ‘What about these food carts?’ ” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of Public Health. He said letter grades for food trucks and carts are an extension of the county’s12-year-old restaurant grading system, which he called “the signature program of this department.”
But as public health officials move to step up regulation of the legitimate mobile vendors, they’re also engaged in constant skirmishes with the outlaws, many operating from makeshift carts with jury-rigged cooking surfaces.
Terrance A. Powell, director of the public health department’s Bureau of Specialized Surveillance & Enforcement Environmental Health Division, said the county’s off-the-grid food scene is “extremely pervasive.”
He estimates there may be as many as 6,000 illegal vendors slinging hash (or, more likely, hotdogs or fruit) from carts or other mobile venues in the county.
They’re active enough to keep four or five flatbed trucks busy in regular raids that yield enough confiscated carts and the occasional rogue catering truck to fill a department warehouse. (A second warehouse in northern Los Angeles County would be helpful in keeping up with the illicit equipment overload, Powell said.)
He said the outlaw operators range from people “selling tamales out of trucks” to those who set up a “full-fledged restaurant after dark in the parking lot.”
The public health department’s raids, undertaken in conjunction with local law enforcement officials, take place at least weekly, usually after dark, in response to public complaints of illegal vending. When confronted, the operators often disappear into the night.
“A lot of times they’ll simply walk off and abandon everything,” Powell said. “Many times the operators intentionally don’t have any identification.”
The proposed letter-grading ordinance has the support of most law-abiding food truck vendors, Powell said. Many of them have gone to great lengths to follow the county’s rules, which include obtaining public health department certification and operating out of officially-approved commissaries where they can dispose of wastewater and properly clean their vehicles
“I think, in general, everybody bought into it,” Powell said. “Having the grade on the vehicles is an easy identifier for the public to discern which are legal and which are illegal,” he said.
Vendor fees paid to the county—which range from $695 a year for a full-fledged catering truck to $301 for a simple pushcart selling prepackaged items—would not initially change under the new county ordinance, but could be raised later if cost analysis studies show an increase is warranted to cover the cost of the program. Health officials said they may be carrying out more inspections under the new system because they’ll be able to more easily locate the roving food-sellers, who would now be required to report their routes to the county. Like the restaurant-grading system, the new measure also would need approval by individual cities within the county.
Molly Taylor, whose Sweets Truck offers an array of upscale goodies to customers around town, said she supports the proposed grading system.
“I think a letter grade is great. My truck is cleaned every day from top to bottom,” Taylor said. She admits to some trepidation about new layers of bureaucracy coming not just from the county but from the city of Los Angeles, where new regulations also are being considered. But “hopefully, it will be for the greater good,” she said.
So popular is the food truck boom that some brick-and-mortar eateries are getting in on the act as well. And there, too, operators see the upside of doing business by the letters.
Bonnie Bloomgarden, who runs the Canter’s Truck, a mobile offshoot of the famed Fairfax Avenue deli, said the grades could be a helpful development in public education about the food-on-the-go industry.
“I think a lot of people still don’t understand that trucks have the same standards as a restaurant,” Bloomgarden said. “We pay rent, we pay taxes, we get inspected all the time. This is a way for people to know that our standards are high.”
Updated 10/12/10: The dining public is about to find out which local food trucks make the grade—literally.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today voted to extend the county’s successful and highly popular restaurant-grading system to mobile food vendors. The new ordinance amending the county code will apply first to 6,000 or so food trucks, and eventually will cover some 3,500 food carts, too.
For the new food truck ordinance to take hold countywide, local cities will need to sign on as well. Widespread participation is expected from the cities, which have overwhelmingly passed ordinances adopting the restaurant-grading system.
Terrance A. Powell, director of the public health department’s Bureau of Specialized Surveillance & Enforcement, Environmental Health Division, said the new regulations mark a major cultural shift in the food world.
“I think there is a realization now that mobile vending is a viable part of food service,” he said in an interview after the supervisors’ vote. “You don’t hear people refer to them as ‘roach coaches’ anymore.”
If adopted by supervisors on a second reading next week, the food truck ordinance will take effect in 30 days.
Updated 10/7/10: Supervisors on Tuesday, October 12, are expected to vote on this revised ordinance to post letter grades on food trucks.