Street Eats, Safe Eats: Miami







The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which inspects Miami food establishments for potential critical and non-critical violations of the food code, provided inspection data covering 2008 through July 2012. In that time, the department conducted 25,463 inspections of food establishments in Miami, including mobile vendors (the department groups together food trucks and carts) and restaurants.

Table 9 provides the average number of violations by establishment type.16 It also breaks out different types of violations as classified by the department—critical, non-critical and total. Critical violations refer to both foodborne illness risk factors (such as foods improperly cooked and toxic substances stored improperly) and violations pertaining to safety and good business practices (such as an unsafe water source and not displaying a current license). Non-critical violations, such as poor maintenance of surface areas and improper storage of cleaning equipment, are generally targeting preventive measures.

As Table 9 shows, both categories of food service saw few violations and Miami’s mobile vendors outperformed restaurants, as vendors averaged 3.7 total violations and restaurants 8.2. The story is similar when looking at different types of violations. Food trucks and carts received fewer critical and non-critical violations than restaurants.

These differences held up under statistical analysis, as shown in Table 10. Results show that Miami’s mobile vendors averaged fewer total violations, critical violations and non-critical violations than its restaurants, and the differences were statistically significant.

Table 9: Miami Food-safety Violations, 2009-July 2012*

  Average (Mean) Violations   Standard Deviation   Minimum   Maximum
Total Violations      
Mobile Vendors    3.71 3.62 0 31
Restaurants 8.15 7.97 0 69
Critical Violations        
Mobile Vendors 3.31 3.15 0 26 
Restaurants  5.43 5.39 0 47
Non-critical Violations    
Mobile Vendors 0.40 0.94 0 10
Restaurants 2.72 3.25 0 36


*Data provided by Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and based on 1,627 inspections of 730 mobile vendors and 23,836 inspections of 3,959 restaurants.

Table 10: Estimated Differences in Food-safety Violations, Miami,
2008-July 2012 (Statistically Significant Results in Italics)*

Average Restaurant Violations 
Compared to Mobile Vendors
Rate of Restaurant Violations 
Compared to Mobile Vendors
Total Violations 4.19 more 117% more
Critical Violations       1.96 more 61% more
Non-critical Violations 2.24 more 597% more


 *Results listed derived from OLS and Poisson regressions.  Full regression results for total violations can be found in Appendix B. 15


15 The full regression output for the models using the number of critical and non-critical violations separately can be supplied upon request.

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