Street vendors in New York can breathe a sigh of relief. The New York State Health Department released a statement on January 1 dispelling fears that a new 2010 health code would prohibit street vendors from selling any seafood products.
The Health Department’s new code, which declares that “no fish, shellfish, or any food consisting of or made with an aquatic animal . . . shall be prepared, stored, held for service or sold from a mobile food vending unit,” is apparently a misunderstanding. A recent press release by the Health Department said: “The Health Department currently prohibits, and will continue to prohibit the sale of raw shellfish from a mobile food cart. However, the wording in the recent amendments to the health code effectively prohibit the sale of all seafood, raw and cooked, and that was unintentional. The Health Department intends to fix this, and will not enforce this amendment as written.”
NY seafood lovers and vendors are rejoicing alike, as the new health code would have put many businesses in jeopardy. Scores of vendors, such as Kwik Meal and Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart, sell primarily seafood. As one vendor remarked after hearing the news, “The full ramifications of this are just sinking into my brain right now . . . this must be some kind of bad dream.”
Fortunately for the many street vendors and consumers, the Health Department is not prohibiting the sale of all seafood from mobile carts. Changes to the botched 2010 code are expected to be made early this year.