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Cleaning

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Food truck kitchen cleanliness is one of the major factors that affect how customers perceive your mobile food business. If you have a filthy truck the least that might happen is the direct affect to the taste and quality of the food you serve, where the extreme side could provide your customers with food poisoning.

food truck kitchen

 

Not only will this affect your sales and reputation, but it can find it’s way into the morale of your food truck employees. No matter what size your food truck’s kitchen is, ensuring that it’s clean can be difficult without setting up an effective schedule.

Evaluate Cleaning Crews and Employees

Many food trucks hire professionally trained cleaners to help keep their kitchen clean and ready for their next shift. The problem with this strategy is that owners will fail to consistently monitor these cleaning crews to ensure that the job is done correctly and according to health standards.

The first step in doing this is making sure that the cleaning crews have the proper certification. To eliminate the likelihood of mistakes and inconsistencies in cleaning, food truck owners should strive to hire the same professional cleaning crews each time.

Although the cleaners handle the biggest jobs, food truck owners should still assign regular cleaning tasks to employees to keep the kitchen from becoming overwhelming for cleaning crews.

Go Green

A common chemical used in the cleaning of food trucks and other commercial kitchen spaces is bleach. While it will certainly kill germs, it doesn’t contribute to a healthy environment. According to recent studies, bleach is a food truck or restaurant’s No. 1 enemy to worker health and the environment. Bleach not only causes irritation for individuals with asthma and allergies, but can even cause dangerous chemical reactions when mixed with other common substances in a food service setting.

To prevent the hazardous side effects that can come from using bleach, consider safer, more effective and environmentally friendly alternatives. One great alternative is Quats, which stands for quaternary ammonium compounds. These compounds are colorless, odorless and non-corrosive, which makes them safe for anyone to use on virtually any metal equipment and surface.

Routine Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning your food truck should never be approached from just one angle. Food truck owners should assign daily, weekly and monthly schedules to each cleaning task the truck needs.

Keeping a food truck kitchen clean can be a full-time job for vendors, and when your lines are long it can be even more difficult to stay on top of it. However, sacrificing as much time and effort as necessary to exemplify the above strategies will ensure more successful and smoother mobile food business in the long run.

Check out this article for more information on cleaning your food truck.

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Energy levels of food truck owners and their staff members are low by the time you make it back to your overnight parking location, this will often cause routine truck cleaning tasks to be performed with less enthusiasm than they should. That’s why it’s important that mobile food operators to periodically check to ensure that employees pay attention and adhere to best practices when performing these tasks.

food truck kitchen

The primary reason for this is that food trucks must be hygienically maintained to protect the health of the truck’s customers as well as to meet health codes and regulations. It’s a high standard in a tough environment.

Use these floor cleaning tips to help meet this high standard:

  • Before cleaning your food truck floors, make sure floor drains (in installed) are unobstructed and working properly.
  • Food truck floor surfaces, which are typically metal panels, vinyl or ceramic tile, should be sealed with a low- or anti-slip coating to foster proper sanitation and reduce the possibility of a slip-and-fall accident.
  • All floor care work should be performed before food handling/processing equipment is cleaned; this helps prevent floor soil and debris from becoming airborne and landing on workstations or equipment.
  • If using mops and buckets, they should be cleaned/changed daily.  Soiled mops and buckets can spread contaminants across the floor, increasing contamination concerns.
  • A squeegee should be used to move moisture into floor drains or out of the truck for quicker drying.
  • If stored in the truck, mops, buckets, squeegees, chemicals and all floor care equipment should be stored off the ground on shelves or racks. This will help keep the equipment clean and deters pests.

Additional Tip:

Pay attention to how staff members handle your kitchen mats, too. Since many food trucks use anti-fatigue mats to help prevent slip-and-fall accidents and worker fatigue it’s very important that mats be cleaned and sanitized as well as the floors they cover.

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Although it may seem simpler to hire a professional to clean your food truck’s exhaust hoods, there are a number of advantages to conducting the clean up yourself. Number one is what most food truck vendors are looking at…cost savings. Cleaning your hood and filters yourself can save your mobile food business hundreds of dollars every year.

 food truck exhaust hood filter

 

In addition to this savings, learning how to do-it-yourself can allow you to clean the hoods, filters and any duct work more frequently. The result will be a cleaner food truck kitchen and a decreased chance of fires breaking out from built-up grease and food debris.

Before you get started you will need some supplies:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Eye protection
  • Plastic tub
  • Liquid degreaser
  • Disposable grease container
  • Paper towels
  • Spray degreaser
  • Cleaning brush
  • Towels
  • Scrub pad
  • Liquid detergent (mild)

Now that you’re ready, let’s get started:

Exhaust Pans and Filters

  1. Turn off the pilot lights on the ovens, range tops and fryers within the food truck. Allow all the exhaust pans and filters within the hood to cool until they can be handled comfortably. Turn off the exhaust hood’s power, and make sure the system’s power is also disconnected.
  2. Cover all surfaces near the cleaning area with plastic sheeting.
  3. Fill a large tub with hot water, and add in liquid degreaser, (follow ratios recommended on the container). Put on your eye protection.
  4. Remove all of the grease pans and exhaust filters. Pour off excess grease into a waste grease container.
  5. Wipe the excess grease and debris out of each filter, and pan with clean paper towels. Coat all sides of each piece with spray degreaser, and use your cleaning brush to gently scrub and loosen debris. Immerse each filter and pan in the hot water tub after scrubbing (you may need to do this in your commercial kitchen space if your truck’s sinks are too small). Let the pieces soak thoroughly until the exhaust hood has been cleaned and dried.
  6. Remove each pan and filter from the soaking water, and rinse with a strong stream of hot water. Make certain each piece is clean. Dry completely with clean, towels. Replace within the cleaned exhaust hood.

Exhaust Hood

  1. Use a clean scrub pad soaked with hot water and a mild liquid detergent to scrub the interior and exterior of the exhaust hood.
  2. Use the scrub pad to gently scrub grease and debris from the piping located within the hood.
  3. Dampen a towel with hot water, and wipe off all soapy residue from all parts of the hood and piping. Spray each part with spray degreaser, wipe off with another warm, damp towel, and dry completely with a clean towel. Dry thoroughly to prevent rust from forming.

We hope this guide helps you save some of your hard earned vending profits and also provides a clean hood system inside your food truck that won’t erupt in flames.

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tip of the dayI guess you could say being in culinary school has taught me a thing or two about how to look professional when walking into a kitchen. Every day, food truck owners strive to show how professional they are as well.

Since your customers can usually see into the truck’s kitchen, this idea should extend into how you and your employees present yourselves. The first step in the process should be keeping your uniform as clean and pressed as possible. Here are some tips & tricks to keeping your entire food truck staff uniforms (even if it’s jeans and a tee shirt) in tip-top shape.

  • Instant Stain Removers - This is a must-have when it comes to those stains that your food truck kitchen dishes out. They are easy to use and keeps the stain from setting, so when you go to wash it, like magic, it disappears!
  • Ironing- As cliche as it may seem, it definitely one that works. Bringing out the old iron board that’s tucked away in the garage, will keep your uniform looking crisp and sharp. If you happen to be someone who own an iron (and refuses to spend a few bucks to get one), a great alternative are the sprays that help de-wrinkle clothing as they come out of the drier.
  • Apron - The apron is basically a shield, you WILL use it to battle off stains, and is essential to keep you clean throughout your shift. (on a food safety note, be sure to take your apron off every time you leave the truck. Who knos what you could run up against and bring into your clean kitchen)

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tip of the dayRegular cleaning of a food truck kitchen is a necessity for any owner in the mobile food industry. Frequently cleaning equipment and supplies keeps them neat and presentable, increases their life and helps prevent food poisoning. However, there are areas of the truck that you may not be aware of are forgotten about.

The Ice Machine

There is a reason this is number one on the list. A lot of food truck employees, managers included; forget that ice is food, and consumption can lead to food poisoning if the product is contaminated. Regularly cleaning the ice machine and ice storage bin will assure a healthy, contaminant-free product.

Underneath and Behind Equipment

It is easy to forget about kitchen areas that are not visible, but the whole out of sight out of mind principle does not hold in your food truck’s kitchen. Bacteria and pests will be attracted to food scraps no matter where they hide. You can also be sure that the health inspector will check underneath every piece of equipment and work table to see if the area is clean.

Refrigeration Coils

Dirty refrigeration or evaporator coils make any refrigeration unit work harder, which can result in uneven temperature in the cabinet. If the temperature fluctuates too much, the food can spoil, so employees need to move your refrigerator and clean the coils at least once a month to make sure the unit functions properly.

Splashes on the Walls

Bacteria can grow on the food splashes and, depending on what area of the country you operate in, fruit flies or other pests may be attracted to the splash. Also, health inspectors will not like dirty walls and neither will customers. It is best for you and your staff to wipe down walls as soon as the splash occurs, so the food does not become dried on and harder to clean at the end of the night.

One way to assure that all of these areas in your food truck are cleaned every day is to put together a cleaning schedule that lists what needs to be cleaned and by whom. You can go a step further and have the person responsible for cleaning each area initial the schedule, indicating that they have cleaned it in order to keep your employees accountable.

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