Anchorage, AK: Are Downtown Food Carts Safe?

By Shannon Ballard  |


ANCHORAGE –  If you’re a food cart vendor in Anchorage, downtown is the place to be.

It’s where the tourists are — a lot of people wanting to try out our so-called Alaskan food.

“I had to try it. I’ve had elk and deer, had to try reindeer,” said Brad Patton from Nevada.

It’s a competitive business along Fourth Avenue.

It’s the reason Cherie Cloninder sets up shop on Fifth Avenue and G Street.

On Friday she got a surprise: an drop-by inspection by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Food carts are required to follow strict guidelines, just like restaurants. Environmental health specialist Janine Nesheim checks for safety violations, food temperatures and other health risks.

“That’s part of the job. It’s all part of it. I want to make sure everything is clean, sanitized, healthy and have a lot of fun doing it,” Cloninder said.

Food cart Mon Cherie passed with no problems and Nesheim was off to her next inspection.

She says there’s a lot more that goes into running a food cart than most people realize.

“Its huge. It’s a long process for these people and they really have to be excited about what they’re doing and they want to do a good job,” Nesheim said.

Imagine how hard it would be to see all the good street food and not eat it. Nesheim stays constantly hungry on the job and says she would have no problem eating from any of the licensed food carts downtown, which for anyone worried about food safety, says it all.

The best way to ensure the food you’re getting is safe is to check carts for food service permit stickers, the health department says.