Food trucks bring joy to both urban cities and remote country sides. Consumers love food trucks for their convenience, delicious tastes, fun themes, and low prices. Moreover, they often serve prepared meals, promote local cuisine, offer the authentic product of the street, one that the restaurants cannot provide.
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However, owning a food truck also means being responsible and accountable. Failure to follow proper hygiene standards can easily cause foodborne diseases and illnesses. To be sure that your food truck isn’t dangerous for you or your consumers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sends industrial hygienists and safety inspectors to help owners meet their safety requirements.
The OSHA is a governmental body that ensures safe and healthy work environments for working men and women in the private sector. As a food truck owner, this means your business falls under OSHA’s jurisdiction and must abide by their rules and regulations. This article will further explain what the OSHA is, what is it that they do, and what standards you have to meet if you own a food truck or a commercial kitchen.
OSHA Inspection and Standards
OSHA usually conducts inspections once a year, and they are typically unannounced. Failure to comply OSHA’s standards can cause harm to workers and consumers and put you out of business. While this might sound harsh, the criteria are relatively rational and easy to achieve.
- Cleanliness is key. A food truck has to be organized so that the inspection may be conducted. It is a workplace so it won’t be spotless, but it has to be clean.
- Proper storage and labeling. All the food has to be correctly stored and safe for consumption. Proper labeling is also important for food health and safety. Keep track of expiration dates and maintain a food temperature log.
- Food preparation. Food is cooked thoroughly at proper temperatures and cross-contamination is avoided. Meat thermometers are used to ensure meat is not served undercooked.
- Employee health. Be sure employees are washing their hands often, following safe and clean cooking techniques, and are knowledgeable of food safety policies. Sick employees should not be handling and preparing food and equipment and should be sent home until well.
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- Documentation. Owners of vehicles need to have the necessary documentation to prove ownership. A food manager identification card (issued by your district) is also required. Keep the records of purchases and storage so that the inspection can be efficiently conducted.
- Ventilation and running water. A food truck should have proper ventilation for employees to breath clean air throughout a work shift, and access to clean running water for frequent hand washes and cleaning equipment.
- Equipment and evacuation safety. Make sure that the mechanical equipment is safe to use and have clear, unobscured exits and evacuation plans.
Tips on How to Meet the Standards
Remember that besides food safety, OSHA will focus on immediate safety issues. Perhaps the most effective way to maintain the OSHA’s standards is to understand them, and then conduct the self-inspections as objectively as possible.
Reporting. OSHA keeps a record of every inspection, issues penalties and fines, gives grades, and keeps the score. Fines can range from $5,000 and $70,000, depending on the magnitude of the mistake. Your score is used for further research, measuring state-wide or federal food safety. If the inspector finds regularities, he or she might issue subpoenas or fines, depending on the severity of the penalty.