Late Thursday afternoon, Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services subcommittee members approved new regulations to regulate an industry that has doubled in popularity during the past four years.
Mobile food vendors are now facing tougher regulations in the city of Austin, Texas.
“It’s been a long back and forth, not only with the health department but a lot of city departments who got involved,” said Ellen Kinsey, who owns Holy Cacao.
The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department proposed seven new regulations including a mandatory fire department inspection report that would cost food vendors $125. Another $125 would be assessed for proof of Texas Sales and Use Tax permit, reported ABC’s KVUE of Austin.
A required written agreement between food vendors and nearby businesses to allow employees access to restrooms if the vendor is in a location for more than two hours is one other change to be implemented.
“The bottom line is if you have people serving food on a shift for eight hours a day, it’s important to make sure there are accommodations for them to have safe hygiene and wash their hands,” said council member Laura Morrison, who serves on the Health and Human Services subcommittee.
“Public health is what we are all about when we look at this. We want to make sure there is enough controls in place to make sure we aren’t subjecting the public to foodborne issues,” said Morrison.
Under the new regulations, the vendors who choose to rent commercial kitchen space to prepare food must have the formal agreements certified by a notary.
The Kitchen Space in East Austin serves mobile food vendors who want to grow their business but do not have enough money to invest in rent or a building. Owner Azim Nagree sees the trendy trailers as a growing industry.
“They come to our facility, make the food, and ensure it’s done in a clean manner,” said Nagree. “They put it on their cart and take it out to their location to sell to customers.”
Other regulations include a mandatory itinerary for truck routes which the Health and Human Services Department says will help enforcement connected to complaints, inspections, and investigations.
The recommended regulations will go before the Austin City Council for final approval.
The City of Austin is forecasting more than 1,600 mobile food vendors in 2011.