Study Finds Miami Food Trucks Cleaner Than Restaurants

Photo by Laine Doss
Stella Vidal Dansby and Stewart Dansby: food truck love.
Question: Which is a safer bet to eat -- a food truck taco or a burger at your local gastropub? If you're one of the people who think a brick-and-mortar restaurant would be cleaner and under more scrutiny by the state, think again.

Florida has cited a recent study conducted by the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Virginia, that concludes food trucks are just as clean as restaurants. In the report "Street Eats, Safe Eats," the civil liberties law firm reviewed more than 260,000 food-safety inspection reports of both food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants in seven cities, including Miami.

According to the Institute for Justice (IJ), "in every city examined -- Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. -- food trucks and carts did as well as or better than restaurants."

See also: Miami Fourth Best Food Truck City in America

The study looked at data from 2008 through July 2013, reviewing 263,395 inspection reports across the seven above-mentioned cities. Reviewers then counted the number of food-safety violations for each restaurant and tallied the results.

In Miami, the IJ looked at reports from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation from 2008 through July 2012. In that time frame, 25,463 inspections were conducted at Miami food establishments, including restaurants and food trucks. The IJ found that on average, food trucks fared better during inspections, with mobile vendors receiving an average of 3.71 violations and restaurants getting an average of 8.15 violations.

Even more surprising, restaurants received an average of 5.43 "critical" violations versus an average of 3.31 critical violations for food trucks. A critical violation refers to possible food-borne illness factors such as storing food at improper temperatures and having rodent or insect droppings, as well as safety issues like not displaying a current license.

According to the IJ, restaurants had 597 percent more noncritical violations than food trucks and 117 percent more total critical and noncritical violations.

Jim Heins, who owns Latin Burger & Taco food trucks and a restaurant in Coral Gables, agrees with the findings. "We go through the same inspections with the food trucks as we do with the restaurants. Each truck has to be inspected twice a year. That's mandatory. We're held to the same standards as a restaurant. Everything is accounted for, from storing the food to the dishwater."

Asked why food trucks seem to be cleaner than restaurants, Heins says it comes down to pride in ownership. "Most trucks are owner operated, so we take good care of our trucks. Sometimes that's the only source of our income, so if something breaks, we fix it immediately."

The next time you're thinking about having a burger from that food truck, go ahead. The truck is probably a lot cleaner than that restaurant charging triple for your lunch.

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Location Info

Latin Burger & Taco

232 Miracle Mile, Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

i would HOPE so! it's such a small space in a food truck that if they can't keep it clean then they don't deserve the license to sell food

Wesley Gray
Wesley Gray

Raymond Grobelny I know you know that guy in the pic. Stuart.

DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

 Restaurant workers are vulnerable to exploitation due to the work standards in certain parts of the restaurant overworked and underpaid,Unsafe/Unhealthy working Conditions no unemployment and no right. if you say something you get fired. I  had spend about 50 hours a week in one, usually 12 hour shifts with no breaks. I know this for the FACT that busboy tubs are not  sanitized just clean water. They used same tubs that had "dirty dishes" to  put ice for customer at the bar area.The food handler aka cook   sneezes while  handing food a for the customer ".handle raw and then touch ready to eat food with no gloves" and don't make talked about dirty towel used to clean everything . The glass cup that customer used to drink are not always clean right. Something that sort of goes unsaid is that when a restaurant gets busy. It is often difficult if not nearly impossible to maintain even the semblance of proper hygienic practices. Because the boss at the end of the shift is always  telling you hurry up you are  cost me money and thing like that. Sweat dripping in food, scratching body parts then touching the food. Soggy box of frozen food. the freezer looking like a  tornado it hit what a mess and dirty. I saw those things, I wouldn't eat it. i forgot about the  black mole on the walls around the dishwashing machine. Then again i saw all this things going on.  Nothing Better and safer Than A Home-Cooked Meal. If somebody is willing to work for less they replace you.

Frank Louis White
Frank Louis White

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Dave Basora
Dave Basora

Some people here have no fucking clue about food trucks and need to learn before opening their mouths

Ray Grandon
Ray Grandon

Pay an inspector and they say what you want!!!

EzƦă VɅǹ
EzƦă VɅǹ

But of course you they make the food typically at a restaurant then just serve it out of the food truck....

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