Study: Most NYC Street Vendors Not Changing Gloves When They Should

The first time I ate a hot dog from a New York City street cart I felt like I’d taken part in some mysterious initiation rite — would I get sick from eating “street meat” and either way, did I just prove I was cool enough not to care or worry about it? While I (and countless others) have come out just fine on the other side of a plate of rice and meat sold on the street, there’s always that underlying hesitation of, “Is this really sanitary?”

A new study focused on street vendors in New York City seems to line up with customers’ fears, finding that the majority of mobile food vendors in the city aren’t switching out their gloves after exchanging money with one customer and serving the next, as required by law, reports the New York Daily News.

NYC’s health code requires food vendors to change gloves “after handling raw foods, performing tasks that do not involve food preparation or processing, handling garbage, or any other work where the gloves may have become soiled or contaminated.”

But after researchers at William Paterson University studied 10 carts in 10 densely populated areas of Manhattan, for a total of 100 carts overall, they found that 56.9% of the 1,084 customer transactions they witnessed had the vendor keeping the same gloves on in between orders.

The findings were “eye-opening from a public health perspective” because of foodborne illness risk, said one of the study’s authors. Money can carry around potentially harmful bacteria, which is why changing gloves is so important to keep those critters from hopping off dollars and onto the next customer’s plate or bun.

“Being observant to the glove-changing behaviors of the vendors as well as overall hygiene is prudent and can reveal a great deal in a short time,” said Corey Basch.

Most NYC food vendors don’t change gloves enough: study [New York Daily News]