Jackson, MS: Food Truck Operator Fined By the State

Ward 1 City Councilman Quentin Whitwell, a lawyer, has offered pro bono legal counsel to ensure that Ferdinand obtains necessary licensure to operate a legal food truck business.

by Bill Campbell | ClarionLedger.com

Ward 1 City Councilman Quentin Whitwell, a lawyer, has offered pro bono legal counsel to ensure that Ferdinand obtains necessary licensure to operate a legal food truck business.

A Jackson chef who has been serving grilled cuisine from a long-bed trailer behind his pickup did not have a food permit from the state Department of Health.

After he was featured in The Clarion-Ledger last month, Kazzy Ferdinand, who has a chef’s license and numerous degrees from Hinds Community College, said, “I got a fine for not having a food permit.”

Health department forms, he said, seemed directed at permanent facilities – restaurants. He said the forms were confusing, and he did not turn them in.

“I kept putting ‘N/A’ for all the answers,” said Ferdinand, who now has a job cooking at the River Hills Club in Jackson. “And when it asked, ‘How many square feet is your establishment?’ Zero.”

Tim Darnell, state director of environmental health, said his department will help anyone seeking a food permit.

“We police the industry ourselves,” Darnell said. “And really what we want is for people to get licensed.”

Depending on food served, food trucks are assigned a risk ranking from 1-4.

“A snowball stand, for example, would be graded as a 1,” Darnell said. “It would be inspected once a year.”

Trucks that serve potentially dangerous dishes, such as certain fish, might be assigned a 4 and are inspected four times a year. The fine, from $40 to $200, depends on the risk level.

Ward 1 City Councilman Quentin Whitwell, a lawyer, has offered pro bono legal counsel to ensure that Ferdinand obtains necessary licensure to operate a legal food truck business. Whitwell has authored a proposal to regulate mobile food carts.

“As it is now written, this ordinance does not impact those who already are providing food upon request or through deals with other establishments throughout the city,” Whitwell said. “This is about new food trucks and carts – restaurants who will sell their dishes in these expensive new vehicles.”

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