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Nature May Be Calling, But New York City Street Vendors Can't Pick Up

Needtopee When you gotta go, you gotta go ... unless you are a New York street vendor, in which case you gotta NOT go or else the New York Department of Health will swoop in and promptly scratch the permit off of your hot nut cart in the 20 minutes that you are away from your stand.

The New York Times City Room blog reports that a new DOH policy that took effect on Jan. 1 bans vendors from leaving their food carts unattended, even for bathroom breaks. Unattended carts are subject to "on-the-spot seizure of the vendor's permit." The policy requires vendors who need to use the bathroom to have another licensed vendor step in to keep an eye on the cart during their absence, or -- less likely given the economics of running hot nut carts -- hire someone to watch their cart.

Gothamist reports that Sean Basinski of the Urban Justice Center's Street Vendor Project thinks the DOH is being inconsiderate of vendors' basic human needs. "As far as we know, there has never been a case of a vendor's food being contaminated while they've left to go to the toilet. I'm sure if some bad person wanted to poison the people of New York City, there'd be easier ways to do it, like going to a salad bar."

But as commenter "lizbeth" notes on a Consumerist post on the subject, perhaps the new policy presents an opportunity for some entrepreneurial unemployed/underemployed person to "provide a service where for a small fee vendors can call in and get someone to relieve them so they can relieve themselves. You could probably offer breaks in 5 minute increments."

"Kind of like the seat fillers they use at the Oscars!," Consumerist adds.

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 26, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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