Myth Busted: Louisville Food Trucks and Food Carts Are Safer Than Restaurants

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · June 9, 2014

Louisville, Ky.—In Louisville, street food is just as safe as food from a restaurant. A newstudyreleased today from the Institute for Justice reviewed thousands of food safety inspection reports from 2010 through July 2013 and found that Louisville’s food trucks did better than restaurants. Food trucks averaged fewer than half as many demerits as brick-and-mortar restaurants per inspection. Food trucks and carts are subject to the same health codes and inspection regime as restaurants.


“Louisville residents love food trucks, but the city bans food trucks from operating within 150 feet of restaurants, virtually all of downtown,” explained Angela C. Erickson, author ofStreet Eats, Safe Eatsand research analyst for the Institute for Justice. “The idea that street food is unsafe is a myth, and limiting food trucks from operating downtown does not improve public health; it only stifles entrepreneurship and prevents hungry workers from having more lunch options.”

The newly released report is part of IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative. The study compares food truck, food cart and restaurant health inspection scores in seven major cities: Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

“In six of the seven cities, mobile vendors performed better than restaurants during inspections. In the seventh, Seattle mobile vendors performed just as well as restaurants,” said Erickson. “The health departments in these cities use the same food-safety criteria for mobile vendors as they do for brick-and-mortar restaurants. The recipe for clean and safe food trucks and carts is simple: inspections.”