December 1, 2023
7 signs food safety experts check for before eating food at a food truck

If you’re feeling sick to your stomach and wondering what the last thing you ate was, you can, appropriately or inappropriately, blame that food truck you stopped at the night before.

Food trucks are small mobile operations, so they can be a difficult environment for chefs and front-of-house staff to run properly.

“Since there is a very limited staff on a food truck, workers must be able to perform many different tasks in a small space and in an intensive, short amount of time,” said Mitzi Baum, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness, which is a Is a non-profit organization. Food-safe practices in education, government, and hospitality.

These talented skeleton crews need to be carefully trained to deal with the constraints of their restaurant-on-wheels, which can include everything from “limited space, limited refrigeration and heating capabilities, and vibration and potential equipment damage.” . [from] Mobility,” said Francine Shaw, food safety consultant and CEO of Savvy Food Safety Inc.

While such unique challenges can certainly compromise food safety, the experts we interviewed assured us that well-run food trucks meet the same standards of cleanliness, hygiene, and proper temperature storage as full-scale restaurants. Maintain.

But due to negative perceptions about their food safety practices (especially when it comes to food trucks that aren’t in trendy neighborhoods and don’t feature Instagrammable aesthetics), not all food truck owners are ” Must be transparent,” said Jonathan Deutsch, professor of food and hospitality management and nutrition science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

We spoke to several food safety experts who explained what they see when eating at food trucks. Look for these positive signs to indicate a well-run hospitality business.

1. A clean exterior and service area

When it comes to the truck’s exterior and the overall appearance of the service area, photo-ready decor won’t tell you anything about food safety, but a “well-maintained exterior” often reflects a well-maintained interior. “Reflects,” Melanie said. Underwood, a ServSafe-certified culinary instructor.

Look for windows free of dirt and dust, a kitchen area that is tidy and clutter-free, and “a clean counter free of spills or food particles, indicating a focus on cleanliness and regular cleaning. If squeeze bottles with spices are available, they [should be] Cleaned and wiped down,” Underwood said.

2. Clear display of health department certificates

Like restaurants, food trucks are subject to health department inspection and receive permits and certifications for food-safe practices. If a food truck passes said inspection and has the certifications to show, food scientist and food systems analyst Brian Chow believes it has “health inspectors’ certificates and none listed by the passenger seat window.” Must have ServSafe Food certification.” Or somewhere nearby.”

3. Employees wearing protective gear

Although some food trucks are so large that they have separate kitchen areas outside of public view, it is easy for guests to look through the windows of most trucks and get a clear glimpse of the culinary side of the operation. That’s why Chow urges food truck employees to “demonstrate that they are wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as gloves and aprons.”

Single-use gloves are particularly convincing. Deutsch said they are “less important for employees working at the fryer” because the hot oil will cook off most of the germs, “but if I’m ordering a sandwich or a smoothie, I’d like to see gloves.”

Also keep an eye on whether employees are changing their gloves after handling raw meat or other materials that could cause cross-contamination – especially if they’re handling money with the same gloves.

Keep track of whether employees are wearing gloves responsibly.

Keep track of whether employees are wearing gloves responsibly.

Keep track of whether employees are wearing gloves responsibly.

4. Hand washing station

“Sometimes, it’s hard to see [a truck] There is a dedicated hand-washing station, but this is ideal, preferably with liquid soap and disposable towels,” Underwood explained.

Potable water can be a challenge for food trucks because, as Chau explained, “Food trucks have a water tank [with ] A limited amount of fresh water for use on the truck.” Still, it’s important for trucks to budget their water usage in a way that allows them to wash regularly throughout the day.

5. A working generator

Generators are the literal powerhouse of any food truck, and Chau said the first thing he does when visiting a food truck is “listen to the generators to know if the equipment is running. [and] To ensure that product is being kept at food-safe temperatures. If there is no generator, the type of food product must already be packaged – such as an ice cream truck where there is adequate insulation and the product must already be [designated as] food safe.”

6. Hand sanitizer available for guests

The knowledge that food truck employees have the ability to keep their hands clean while working reassures food safety experts, but because food truck patrons generally don’t have the benefit of a beautifully decorated restroom, I I would also hope to have access to hand sanitizer so I can sanitize my hands before eating,” Deutsch said.

7. Willingness to communicate with diners about safety measures

Food trucks give diners a more up-close-and-personal view of the back-of-the-house operations than a typical restaurant with a non-open kitchen. For this reason, Shaw believes food truck operators should address this by “educating customers.” Provide information about your food safety practices through signage, menus or promotional materials. Highlight your commitment to sourcing high-quality ingredients, following proper handling procedures, and maintaining safe cooking temperatures.

Additionally, Shaw recommends “responding to customer inquiries”: Be receptive to customers’ questions or concerns about food safety. By addressing customer concerns promptly and transparently, you can build trust and loyalty.



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