Health department inspectors catch one or two unlicensed food vendors each week. Each December the health department shuts down on average between 10 to 15 unlicensed food vendors, says Brian O’Green, environmental health manager for the Yuma County Health Department.
Some who are caught are simply unaware they need to be licensed and most, after being told to halt their operation, "just go away," he said. O’Green said there are very few cases that require the health department having to take them to court.
Those who eat "foods of chance" from an illegal vendor are increasing their risk of contracting food-borne bacterial infections such as salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, O’Green said.
"Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can infect a person. One way to become infected is to cut poultry meat on a cutting board, and then use the unwashed cutting board or utensil to prepare vegetables or other raw or lightly cooked foods," the CDC reports.