FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Officials with the Fresno County Department of Public Health are responding after a viral video captured health officers throwing away a street vendor’s food outside of a concert in Fresno.
Outside the Save Mart Center on Friday night, officers from the health department could be seen on video throwing away hotdogs after finding out that 16-year-old Edgar Tol from Bakersfield didn’t have a license to sell food.
During a press conference on Friday, officials said that the department had thrown away the food in order to protect the health of the street vendor’s customers.
“We really didn’t have a choice about having to discard that food,” explained Erica Armstrong, an environmental health specialist with Fresno County. “If we are unable to verify the source of the food, if the food is held at improper temperatures, and holding equipment is not proper, then we do have to discard the food.”
Health officials said that the same process for discarding food is in place for businesses that are permitted to sell food, as well as unpermitted street vendors.
“We do not target any person or business due to race, ethnicity, or culture. Our unpermitted mobile food operation is really driven by complaints,” said Joe Prado with Fresno County Public Health.
Additionally, officials explained that food handling and safety requirements are not just a local decision, but are in place for the entire state.
As far as the permitting process, it depends on what type of food the street vendor wants to sell.
While applying for a permit, officials said street vendors can reach out to the department to get guidance with the process. The department also has multilingual staff members that can help guide street vendors.
Before buying any type of equipment, officials urge street vendors to reach out to the health department to figure out what they need to meet the requirements to sell food.
Officials said Tol will be able to get his confiscated food cart back after paying a $196 fee.
The woman who filmed the video, Karina Rodriguez, said she will continue to support vendors and encourages them to get a permit.
Rodriguez has set up a GoFundMe account to help Tol pay for permitting fees and to get a new cart.