Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Grading the food trucks

Though it doesn't mention the Kogi Taco Truck specifically, the Los Angeles Times has an article talking about how the food truck trend has led to a push in Los Angeles County to have these mobile eateries graded the same way brick-and-mortar restaurants are:
Los Angeles County public health officials are asking the Board of Supervisors to expand to food trucks the county’s popular letter grading system that evaluates safe food handling practices. The vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been pushed back a week.

If approved, 6,000 full-service catering trucks and 3,500 hot dog, churro and other limited food service carts would be covered by the ordinance. If the supervisors approve it, enforcement would first begin in unincorporated areas of the county.

County health officials said they anticipate that cities will adopt the county ordinance as well, which would permit the county public health department to enforce the rule within city boundaries.

The move to grade trucks, just as restaurants have been for more than a decade, is another sign that the burgeoning food truck movement has taken a prominent place in L.A.'s dining world.
For non-SoCalers or the geographically impaired, this law would not directly affect Orange County, which borders Los Angeles County to the south but is not part of it. The OC, with three million residents, is a distinct municipality that has its own laws and regulations.


At any rate, this issue seems reminiscent of the battle between SoKo municipalities and p'ojangmach'a [포잔마차] over the issue of food safety. These sidewalk food stalls have very little regulation, even though they are usually parked in the same spot day after day. I guess food safety may be self-regulating, to some degree, as local residents or workers will eschew a place where they got sick in the past, forcing cart owners to clean up or clean out. The city of Seoul, however, thought that wasn't enough, and at various times has forced them all off the streets.

Meanwhile, back in L.A. County, some truck owners and their customers are worried that the new regulations, which include providing locations in advance, will mean less spontaneity (tracking down Naranja on Twitter is half the fun!) and more cost. Restaurant owners, on the other hand, complain that it is unfair that they are competing with trucker-foodies who don't have to play by the same rules.

I'd just like to note that no matter what profession one chooses to go into, Koreans can't escape the importance of grades.

I gave this an A.

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