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

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

Seattle—Enjoy that gourmet hot dog, Seattle: street food is just as safe as food from a restaurant. A newstudyfrom the Institute for Justice reviewed thousands of food safety inspection reports from 2009 through July 2012 and found that Seattle’s food trucks and food carts are just as safe as restaurants. Food trucks and food carts averaged three fewer demerits than restaurants per inspection. Food trucks and food carts are subject to the same health codes and inspection regime as restaurants.


“Seattle’s mobile vending scene is exploding,” 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 this study puts to rest any lingering doubts about food trucks.”

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.”