LE BRONX, NY – The New York City Sanitation Department came under fire this weekend after videos showed workers tossing fresh produce from an unlicensed street vendor.
The videos, posted by the Street Vendor Project on Saturday morning, showed at least two DSNY employees throwing individual fruits and vegetables as well as crates of produce into the back of a garbage truck.
The organization, which defends street vendors in New York City, alleged that thousands of dollars in fresh produce had been trashed.
âIn the midst of a pandemic, in the Bronx where 1 in 5 people don’t have enough to eat, @NYPDnews, @NYCSanitation trashed a business, destroying products in a food desert. This family is just trying to run a small business and sell affordable fruits and vegetables, âthe Street Vendor Project said in a tweet. âThe saleswoman is clearly a beloved member of her community. Neighbors gathered around her, calling for an end to the abuse. Thousands of dollars of oranges, tomatoes and other fruits [were] put in the trash. Taken from an immigrant woman entrepreneur, already hard hit by the pandemic.
An official from one of the agencies involved told PIX11 News on Sunday that sanitation workers had no choice but to throw the produce away due to New York City regulations and protocol for fresh food. .
The Ministry of Consumer and Worker Protection reported a violation to the unlicensed seller when he abandoned the items, the official said. The NYPD called DSNY to get rid of crates of produce left behind when the seller did not return, according to the DCWP.
City law states that agencies must attempt to donate confiscated fresh food, however, a Department of Health official must first certify that the food is safe.
The official said DSNY had to throw out the produce because the chain of custody for the food couldn’t be verified as safe for consumption, but workers were forced to leave after a crowd of angry residents turned around. gathered at the scene.
When workers returned later that day, most of the food had been removed from the site by strangers, the official said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Sanitation called the situation unfortunate.
âThis video shows a small part of an unfortunate situation, where abandoned materials had to be disposed of for the safety of the community. The Ministry of Sanitation is committed to our mission to keep streets and neighborhoods safe, clean and healthy, âsaid the spokesperson.
Still, the video sparked outrage on social media and quickly went viral. A rally was held on Sunday to condemn the city’s actions and call for fewer restrictions on street vendors.
The Ministry of Consumer and Worker Protection told PIX11 on Sunday that it would work with relevant city agencies to ensure this does not happen again.
âThe results of this multi-agency sales application are not in line with city policies. The DCWP and its sister agencies that help with confiscations if necessary will work together to ensure that this kind of waste does not happen again, âthe spokesperson said.
The NYPD directed PIX11 to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for comment on the incident.
Suggest a correction