Food trucks safer than restaurants, study finds

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Fans of Tallahassee’s Food Truck Thursday at Lake Ella, of Tampa’s monthly Food Truck Fiesta, of Orlando’s “Monsta Lobsta” or St. Pete’s “Jimmy Sliders” will enjoy even greater peace of mind during their next lunchtime nosh with the results of a new study at hand.

Food trucks are safer than restaurants, according to a report released this week by the Institute of Justice. The group analyzed more than 260,000 food safety inspection reports in seven US cities and found that food trucks and cards did better than restaurants in terms of health and safety violations.

The study looked at Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Seattle, and Washington D.C., because these cities cover mobile vendors with the same health codes and inspections as brick and mortar restaurants — permitting more accurate comparisons.

This is good news for food truck aficionados and a persuasive message for municipal leaders who have become increasingly  reluctant to license or permit food trucks. In many areas, food truck owners face intense restrictions from lawmakers.

But do these more stringent regulations work in terms of protecting the health of consumers?

According to this report, “burdensome regulations proposed in the name of food safety, such as outright bans and limits on when and where mobile vendors may work, do not make street food safer – they just make it harder to get.”

In other words, food trucks in cities where regulations for mobile food are identical to regulations for brick-and-mortar restaurants, have equal if not better outcomes.

In Miami, for example, restaurants had about double the number of food safety violations than food trucks between 2008 and July 2012.

All the more reason to keep mobile food rolling.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.