By Sylvia Gonzalez
ODESSA - You've probably seen them around town mobile food vendors. They set up near a job site, down at the corner, anywhere they think they can entice you to grab a quick bite to eat. But how do you know which vendors are legit and which are not? According to Bob Barr, who is an Ector County Food Inspector, it takes community involvement.
"We have a lot of eyes and ears out there. The police also stop, units can ask to see their health permits and assist us just as well as the general public," Barr said.
He says that in the last couple of months there has been a rise in the number of people who want a mobile unit permit, surprisingly most are from out of town.
"I think they are interested because you know this is a boom economy right now. They would feel like they might be able to make some money from a mobile unit," Barr said.
Barr says that while many vendors go to businesses selling food even then, there are guidelines that must be followed. For instance, even though food may be prepared at home in the kitchen, it still has to be inspected before it can be sold. However, not everyone is obeying the law.
Barr says there are some things you should look out for when buying food from a vendor who goes to your job.
"If they buy a burrito from a vendor and it has no individual labels on it and the vendor is suppose to have their Health Permit taped to their ice chest, this would indicate they are illegal vendors and we would take appropriate actions there," Barr said.
If you think you can sell food with out a permit and not pay a fine, think again.
"Fines are anywhere between zero and $2,000 per day. It's based on what the judge decides after you write a citation. There is some real enforcement there to make sure that the food is safe for the public," Barr said.
A mobile unit permit is $40 and is good for one year. On top of that, there is a city permit that will cost you $25 but it's only good for 10 days.