Tags Posts tagged with "Inspections"

Inspections

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San Antonio Inspection

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Health standards are a common concern for food truck connoisseurs but fire safety standards are an important issue too.

A food truck explosion in Philadelphia last week served as a sobering reminder of the dangers.

Locally, fire safety inspectors do what they can to help make sure food trucks are safe.

Once a year, food truck vendors like Frank Collazo are required to pass a health inspection and a fire safety inspection.

“I don’t do any cooking in my truck. I don’t even have kitchen space, but you have to get inspected the same as if you were,” said Collazo.

“There’s a checklist. There’s a number of things we look for (such as the presence of) fire extinguishers,” said Chris Monestier, deputy fire marshal and assistant fire chief. “A potential hazard is the propane, so (the inspector is) checking for any leaks in the lines, making sure the hoses are approved for that use.”

Last Tuesday, in Philadelphia, a propane tank exploded inside a food truck injuring 12 people and severely burning two people.

Locally, it was a tragic reminder of the potential danger.

“Our division chief, (who’s) responsible for the fire prevention division, went ahead and put that out to all the inspectors and said, ‘Look, this is why we do these type of inspections. It’s because of public safety,’” said Monestier.

Food truck operators are required to have fire safety inspections once a year and they have to display the inspection sticker on the outside of the truck next to the health inspection sticker. They can also have pop-up inspections at any time.

Find the entire article with video at ksat.com <here>

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los angeles lonchero

LOS ANGELES, CA - Of the roughly 3,200 licensed food trucks and carts wheeling meals around Los Angeles County, about 40 percent have never been inspected by the Department of Public Health. The rest are checked less frequently than guidelines require, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Those troubling figures come from Angelo Bellomo, the Department’s director of environmental health, who oversees restaurant and food truck inspections, who told the L.A. Times that, “this is an area that needs improvement.”

The Vehicle Inspection Program, which mandates letter grades for food trucks, was first introduced in 2011, and county health guidelines require two annual field inspections. However this hasn’t happened for a significant number of mobile eateries on the road and consumers still cannot review health inspection information for many of these trucks.

The 40 percent report does not include any unlicensed vendors that are currently doing business in the city.

“[The Health Department] estimates around 11,000 illegal vendors operate every day here in Los Angeles County,” said Matt Geller, Co-Founder & CEO, Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association on AirTalk. “So they have a huge task ahead of them. I’m sure that there are lapses at times, but 40 percent seems like a very high number to me.”

The term illegal vendors refers to any person selling food or beverages without a license, from the person selling sodas out of a cooler to a food truck roaming the streets without a license.

Find the entire article at scpr.org <here>

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FRESNO, CA –  Food trucks are becoming an even bigger part of the food scene in Fresno. But you may wonder if they are safe places to eat. The county health department does require them to be inspected, just like restaurants.

dusty buns fresno

The last two weeks in March is a time mobile food vendors need to be ready for. That’s when they have to bring their trucks or even bikes and pushcarts in to be looked over by the health department.

Dave Pomaville of the Fresno County Department of Public Health says it’s a big job.

Pomaville explained, “We have about 450 different mobile food vending vehicles of all different shapes and sizes each of them will come through here over the next few days and be inspected by one of the department staff.”

Among things inspectors check are cleanliness, they make sure the water is hot and the refrigerators are cold.

Tony Mullings owns TakoBBQ the Valley’s only Korean Barbeque truck. He doesn’t mind the inspection process.

Mullings said, “It’s necessary, we have to be clean and be inspected, let the people know that our truck is clean so they will be comfortable eating off of it.”

Mobile food operators can prepare for this inspection, but Pomaville says surprise inspections are also held.

Pomaville added, “While they are out in the community working we will stop by and do unannounced inspections of these facilities while they are operational to make sure they have the proper food handling practices in place.”

Find the original article with video at abclocal.go.com <here>

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chicago fire departmentTo help mobile food vehicle license applicants prepare for the Department of Public Health (CDPH) and, if applicable*, Chicago Fire Department (CFD) inspections, they are providing a FREE Mobile Food Vehicle (MFV) Assessment prior to submitting an application.

The MFV Assessment consists of a mobile food vehicle review by CDPH and CFD inspectors, who will provide applicants with an inspection report explaining the results of their compliance assessment.  A Business Consultant from our department will be onsite to assist with the process, and coordinate any additional services.

MFV Assessments are conducted by appointment only.  To make an appointment, contact them by phone at (312) 74-GOBIZ / 744-6249, or by submitting an online request at this link.

* Mobile food vehicles equipped with propane or natural gas system, fire suppression hood and/or a generator, are required to be inspected by the Chicago Fire Department.

You can find the entire list of Chicago food truck license requirements <here>

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Although it may be tempting to put off certain repairs to your food truck or overlook a few minor health violations in hopes that the health inspector won’t pay you a visit in the near future, a better practice is to treat every day as the day an inspector will show up.

Food Truck Safety

Here are ten tips to keep that health report spotless and those citation costs to a minimum:

Inspect your truck every month

The best way for you and your employees to prepare for any inspection is by performing a self-inspection on your food truck every month. The saying “practice makes perfect” fits perfectly into any conversation about the health inspections your food truck receives.

When conducting self-inspections, you should take the role of the inspector and have another staff member take your role so your employees know what will be looked at and how they can help maintain your truck with minimal assistance.

Here are some tips for conducting monthly truck inspections:

  • Surprise your employees with an inspection.
  • Arm yourself with the right tools.
  • Use the local inspection sheet.
  • Start outside.
  • Give your truck the white-glove treatment.
  • Ask “why” questions.
  • Check your records.
  • Point out the positive as well as the negative.
  • Review your findings.
  • Schedule a mandatory staff meeting to delegate tasks

Within a day of your monthly self-inspection, or an official health department inspection, schedule a staff meeting to go over the findings. Make sure your staff knows this meeting is more official than your regular meetings. Be sure to have an agenda plus a time and action plan, and assign tasks to each employee regarding what needs to be inspected and cleaned in order to comply with health department regulations.

Figure out what to fix from the past

Use your previous inspection reports, which the health department provides upon completion of its inspection, as a guide to help you and your staff clean your kitchen,service window area, storage, and cooler areas.

Before an inspector shows up, he usually does the same thing and typically makes a point of reexamining these areas to make sure you’re keeping them up to snuff. Showing that you’ve taken care of previous issues tells an inspector that you take his reports seriously. Some health officials even speed up their inspections knowing that you’re willing to listen to them and follow their advice.

Ask for an inspection by an exterminator

Nothing will shut down a food truck faster than an inspector finding a cockroach or the remains of a little critter. Because rodents, flies, cockroaches, and other pests can contaminate food and food preparation surfaces, any evidence of vermin or insects inside a food truck can cause pointdeductions.

If an active infestation is discovered, the health inspector can shut down the establishment immediately and keep it closed until the problem is resolved.

Check your refrigeration

You and your employees open and close your food truck refrigerators numerous times throughout the day, causing their internal temperature to rise several degrees. If your refrigerator is set at exactly the minimum required temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the actual temperature may be several degrees higher by the middle of the day.

Consistently check the temperature inside the refrigerators to make sure your food is being stored at the proper temperature.

Another refrigeration area to look at is the drainage. Each week, make sure your drains are flowing freely by pouring boiling water into the bottom of the appliance to find and remove any clogs.

Keep your cooler shelves clean

The bottoms of cooler shelves have a tendency to collect grime, dirt, or residue from vegetables, meat, spilled milk, and so on and are regularly missed by cleaners. A lot of fairly new restaurants are found guilty of making this mistake during the inspection following their openings.

Every week, or as needed, fill a sink with warm soapy water, remove all trays and racks from the inside of the cooler, and wash them in the sink. Wash the inside of the cooler along the sides and bottom with the warm soapy water, too.

Check your water temperature

Over time, the water heaters used in food trucks can fail to reach their maximum water temperature. Although the water may feel hot to your touch, it may not meet your health department’s standard.

Why risk a mark against you during your inspection — or even a fine — if using a thermometer under your water tap monthly can help you avoid it? If you determine that your water heater isn’t producing water at its maximum temperature (check the manufacture’s guide for the specific data for your equipment), contact a licensed plumber to repair or replace the unit.

Clean your coffee mugs

Your personal coffee mugs or water cups that you have sitting around while you’re busy working the grill can be inspected, too. The problem probably isn’t a citable one, but any significant sign of dirt and wear can affect the way the inspector perceives your entire operation.

Make an appointment for an inspection

After you and your team have completed a thorough cleaning of the truck, call your health inspector and ask him to schedule your vehicle for an inspection. Let him know that you’re attempting to achieve a high health department score and that you’d like an inspection in the near future.

Due to their tight schedules, many inspectors will fit you in as soon as possible because they know they’ll be busy later in the year as new inspections, reinspections, and follow-up inspections are called for. And that way, you’ll know that your truck is as clean as possible during the inspection.

Inform your staff that the health inspector is coming

Make sure every one of your employees knows that the inspector may show up. Even if it’s a week before the scheduled inspection, make sure your employees are on their toes by monitoring the truck’s cleanliness and pointing out issues that need correction immediately.

Remind everyone to wash his hands frequently, and keep water splashed in the hand sinks. Nothing is worse than having your hand sinks dry when the inspector shows up. Also make sure you have hand sanitizer in the truck.

We hope these tips help you breeze by your next health department inspection of your food truck. If you happen to have any additional tips that you have found helpful, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

 

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Restaurant Ratings

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s continuing implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) software is assisting with a growing assortment of business needs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM was introduced within the department two years ago and is still in the implementation phase. Jim Green, the department’s CIO, said that developing applications for Public Health’s more complex projects was challenging, so the department looked to Microsoft as an alternative.

For one project, developers and business analysts in the Department of Public Health and its Environmental Health Division developed an application supported on the CRM system for vehicle inspections — particularly for vehicles that are used as mobile food facilities (a.k.a., food trucks).

Vendors selling food out of a mobile facility are required to obtain a business license and a county public health permit in order to operate legally. Environmental health specialists from the department do inspections of mobile food carts, food trucks or vendors selling food from their personal vehicle.

“Unlicensed operators are presenting a potential risk to health because their food handling practices may not be safe,” Green said. “The equipment may not be up to par.”

Vehicles can be impounded if mobile food vendors are operating without a license, Green said. In those cases, information regarding those cases, such as the vehicle retrieval process, can be tracked through the CRM software.

Prescription

Green said that in addition to the vehicle tracking, the department has worked to implement CRM for labeling the limited number of prescription drugs the department dispenses.

On Jan. 1, 2011, a new mandate in California standardized prescription drug labels. In the past, Green said, prescription drug bottles were labeled by hand, which was a cumbersome and error-prone process.

The department integrated its CRM system with a commercially available database of prescription information so it can look up the correct drug that needs to be prescribed as well as the physical description associated with that drug. The information is formatted using the report writing capabilities in the CRM platform. Once labels are formatted, they are printed to go on the prescription bottles. The system also generates information about the drug that’s distributed in a pamphlet given to the patient.

Green said the CRM assists with inventory tracking for the prescriptions and interfaces with an automated prescription-filling machine so that pills don’t have to be hand-counted into bottles. About nine months ago, L.A. County began integrating CRM into the workflow for prescription drugs, and the work is ongoing.

Find the entire article by Sarah Rich at govtech.com <here>

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