Taco Vendors Protest New Rules

Houston mobile food vendors say they'll keep pushing their lawsuit against the City of Houston, even though a federal judge has upheld a new city ordinance that tightens health requirements food vendors have to live by. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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About 60 taco truck owner-operators sued the city in federal court to block the new ordinance that requires them to bring their trucks to a city commissary every day to dump wastes and take on clean water before they start selling food. City Health Department spokeswoman Cathy Barton says it clears up a gray area in the old ordinance that allowed many vendors to avoid going to the commissary for days at a time.

"The new ordinance also enables to put in place some electronic monitoring at the commissaries, that will go into our web-based inspection system. So that even if they show a receipt, that could be falsified, we can just go on the website and see if indeed that truck passed through gates of a commissary."ξ

The vendors say the daily trips to the commissary are a hardship that costs them time and money. Their lawyer says the rules are racist because they target Hispanics.ξ Barton doesn't agree.

"That is not what we're about. We are about ensuring that the public has a safe supply of food in the community, and I think it's unfortunate that some people interpret it that way."

Barton says the city has an obligation protect the health of all its citizens. The new ordinance could go into effect this week, but the taco vendors' lawyer says they will continue pushing their lawsuit to get it thrown out.ξ Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.


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