Across the nation more and more municipalities are continuing to embrace the food truck revolution. With that said, there are still many industry detractors who continually bring up the false claim that food trucks are not held to the same health standards as their brick and mortar restaurant counterparts. The problem with this claim is that the mobile food industry (including the trucks and their commercial kitchens) is reviewed and held to the same health codes by local health departments as restaurants. To help stop this outright lie by these individuals, food truck owners need to make sure they educate themselves and their employees on food safety and install effective solutions before hitting the streets.
As food truck owners gain knowledge on food safety and hygiene, they will see how it increases their bottom line by decreasing risks of foodborne illnesses and write-ups from the health inspector. Here are five tips to help you get started in the right foot:
Keep Hands Clean
Proper hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent illness and the spread of germs. While space is tight in a food truck, operators need a hand washing station that provides running warm water and soap with a touch-free dispenser and single-use paper towels in a contained dispenser. Hand hygiene is a key issue because a food truck’s compact environment lends itself to a higher risk of cross contamination. Use rubber gloves, and never allow your service window operator (who handles the money) to touch food products without first properly washing their hands.
Check Food Temperatures
Maintaining and checking the appropriate temperature of foods prior to and during service is another important factor in preventing foodborne illness. Hot foods should be held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above and served or discarded after four hours. If foods are not held at the appropriate temperature, bacteria growth begins, increasing the possibility of making a customer ill.
Maintain Proper Refrigeration
Food trucks are traveling most of the day and need cold storage for a variety of ingredients and pre-prepared items at food safe temperatures. The greatest threat for the rapid bacteria growth occurs in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with some bacteria doubling in numbers in as little as 20 minutes. A refrigerator needs to be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to protect most foods.
Sanitizing solutions should be changed frequently. All mobile vendors should refer to local health department regulations on the necessary concentrations for sanitizing solutions. Instead of using cloth towels that can hold bacteria even after washing, use disposable wipes to disinfect food preparation, counter, service and utility surfaces.
Keep Hygienic Products Onboard
Keeping cleaning and hygiene products readily available can be a challenge when space is an issue. However, there are portable and compact solutions for food trucks when it comes to preventing foodborne illnesses. Affix hand sanitizer dispensers near the service window to help ensure hand hygiene among your staff. Some food truck owners have hand sanitizing stations available for their customers use.
The road to cleanliness can certainly be a dirty job. In addition to providing your staff with proper training and the use of cleaning solutions; food truck operators need comply with all state and local health code regulations. Not only will focusing on hygiene help to quite the industry detractors, it will steer your mobile business toward to a better bottom line by ensuring customers will continually bring their appetites to the window of the cleanest food truck in town.