One of the biggest problems faced by food service professionals and food safety trainers alike is the issue of how to capture and hold attention when teaching...
Summer is right around the corner, and for many areas this brings an army of food trucks rolling out to streets everywhere. It’s important to understand that food trucks must meet the same food safety regulations and expectations as restaurants – especially for food truck operators.
Operating a food truck presents some unique challenges - things like space considerations, cost, and hygiene.
Basic food safety rules still apply to food trucks
It is important to treat your food truck like you would treat any full-sized kitchen, especially when it comes to the handling of food. Firstly, the hands of all food handlers should be washed regularly and vigorously. Before cooking can even begin, it’s important to ensure that all knives and utensils are clean, sanitized and ready for use. It’s never wise to use the same utensil on multiple dishes - instead wash and sanitize your equipment and start fresh with each new meal.
On the food side of things, fresh produce must always be washed before use. All food in your kitchen should be regularly inspected to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Raw meat products should never touch cooked dishes, and foods should not be left exposed for unsafe amounts of time – more than two hours is the general limit for cooked foods, and foods requiring refrigeration should go straight from the fridge to preparation and not be left out beforehand.
Don’t let space limitations affect your ability to run a clean kitchen
Even with the limitations of a smaller kitchen, many food truck operators still manage to keep a clean kitchen by simply managing the space they’ve been given to work with. Food prep surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized regularly to avoid cross contamination. Refrigerators and sinks should be within a reasonable distance from food preparation areas to ensure proper food safety and maintain employee cleanliness.
As a food truck operator, you must embrace the limitations of cramped quarters rather than using them as an excuse to keep things substandard. Proper food preparation equipment should be kept in the truck and regularly cleaned and maintained. Proper ventilation is another major consideration for food truck operators, and something that will surely be on the mind of any health inspector.
Be your own health inspector
Food service operators don’t always cherish a visit from the local health inspector - this is no different for those operating food trucks. Food trucks are of particular concern for health inspectors due to the unique challenges food handlers face working in a kitchen on wheels. Doing regular checks on all food, equipment, prep areas, and employee practices should become part of your routine, and will ease your concerns when the inspector does eventually come around. You should also familiarize yourself with your local health department’s regulations, and in particular any that are aimed specifically at food trucks. Ensure that your facilities and staff are always in compliance with these regulations.
Food trucks have become so popular for a reason - they provide a wide variety of convenient and delicious options for customers. Keeping up with proper cleaning and sanitation, ensuring regular maintenance of food truck equipment, and doing regular checks on the inner workings of your food truck will help you prepare safe food. This will keep the health inspector - and your customers - happy.