Despite overcast conditions, people flocked to Santa Monica State Beach during last year's Labor Day. (Daniel Archuleta

Santa Monica policeand code enforcement officers are targeting illegal food vendors this summer in an effort to preserve public health.

Every summer the number of beachgoers rises to new heights, and as beach population increases so does the demand for food and beverages. This demand is often met by unlicensed food vendors who, according to a press release published June 10 by the Santa Monica Police Department, pose a “serious public health concern.” The release cites a CDC study, which states that one in six Americans experiences sickness caused from tainted food, and an average of 3,000 die each year.

The two departments have joined forces on an outreach and education campaign, which the press release states will “inform and discourage unlicensed vendors from engaging in these harmful practices.”

“In each of these operations a bilingual officer and code compliance officer have been paired up to patrol the beach area,” said Sgt. Rudy Camarena. “The code compliance officer retains discretion of whether to issue an administrative citation or to issue a warning. Surrounding circumstances are taken into consideration, including whether previous warnings or citations have been issued to the vendor, the level of sophistication in their operation and their willingness to voluntarily comply with regulations.”

This crackdown on unlicensed food vendors is already being implemented on Santa Monica’s beaches, and is expected to significantly decrease the number of vendors, reducing the threat of foodborne illness they pose.

“We anticipate that the stepped up enforcement will have an impact in curbing the practice, attaining a level of compliance with health and safety regulations and providing for the welfare of our public,” Camarena said.

Many vendors have already been contacted and informed about city codes. In the coming months they will be expected to change their practices to comply with health and safety regulations, or stop business entirely.

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