“Even in a regular restaurant, making sure that you have the facilities setup to ensure that equipment is easily cleanable and easily sanitized is a difficulty,” Dr. DiCaprio relates. “Working in such a confined space, that’s just another major challenge for the food trucks.”
The Danger Zone. The FDA Food Code considers food left in the temperature range of 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit to be in what they refer to as the “Danger Zone.”
“You could imagine, if it’s 103 degrees outside today in California, and you had a food truck out there with a refrigerator trying to maintain a safe temperature below 41 degrees Fahrenheit—it’s going to be much more difficult for that equipment to keep cool compared to a refrigerator in a brick and mortar facility where, of course, you have more environmental control,” Dr. DiCaprio expresses.
“There needs to be adequate access to utilities to operate the refrigerator and stove,” Venema notes. Otherwise, “they’re not able to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, which can lead to foodborne illness.”
Take it seriously. While owning and operating a food truck undoubtedly seems like an exciting venture, it’s an endeavor that requires meticulous care and understanding.
“A big issue is that mobile food vendors often lack food licenses and permits, which translates into a lack of food safety training,” Venema says, referencing a study by Lucan, et al. “Take a food safety training class to become licensed and have the appropriate permits,” she suggests, putting it plainly.
Finally, Dr. DiCaprio would like to see food vendors perceive inspections as a teachable moment, rather than as something dreadful and worrisome.
“They’re being inspected by the health agency to really pay attention to what the inspector is looking at,” she says. “When they get the reports, they should really look at what the deficiencies were, and try to understand why that would be a food safety risk, why that something would be cited on, and try to improve moving forward from there.”
Novis is an editorial intern for Wiley’s U.S. B2B editorial division.