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Safety

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Food truck employees experience a high number of burns compared to most employment sectors. Cooks and service window staff are listed among the top occupations at risk for on-the-job burn injury. On top of severely injuring yourself or one of your food truck staff members a burn can cause a loss in work time and could even lead to having to hire a new employee (to fill in) if a burn is bad enough.

Preventing Food Truck Burns

This article will discuss the common ways that burns happen in both food trucks and the commercial kitchens you prepare your food in and how to prevent these injuries from happening.

Did you know…

  • The majority of people hospitalized for workplace scald and contact burns are involved in food preparation.
  • In deep frying, hot oil can reach temperatures of 300° to 500°F, making this task a potential high risk for burn injuries.

Burns usually occur when:

  • Food truck management has not enforced safety rules
  • Workers ignore safety rules
  • Shortcuts are taken or workers are time-pressured
  • Persons become too familiar with their job and take unnecessary risks
  • Workers are ill, tired or compromised by drugs or alcohol and unable to concentrate.

Food truck burn injuries result from contact with:

  • Hot liquids and steam
  • Hot oil and grease
  • Hot substances such as food or sauces
  • Hot surfaces – stoves, grills, ovens
  • Fires from hot grease or oil
  • Exposed electrical wires or improperly maintained electrical appliances or equipment.

What can you do to protect yourself and your food truck staff?

  • Wear protective gloves or mitts when handling hot pots or cooking with hot deep-frying oil.
  • Wear non-skid shoes to prevent slipping on wet or greasy floors.
  • Extinguish hot oil/grease fires by sliding a lid over the top of the container. · Never carry or move oil containers when the oil is hot or on fire.
  • Avoid reaching over or across hot surfaces and burners. Use barriers, guards or enclosures to prevent contact with hot surfaces.
  • Read and follow directions for proper use of electrical appliances.

PREVENTION

Burn injuries to workers can result in large losses of time and money, in addition to tremendous pain and suffering.

As a food truck truck owner, you can help prevent burn injuries by increasing your staff’s awareness and making burn safety a key part of job training.

Identify:

  • tasks or jobs that are high risk
  • personnel who may be at higher risk
  • times of day when more injuries occur.

Provide warning labels in other languages for non-English speaking employees.

Use unambiguous warning labels and easy to understand pictorial warning labels for non-readers on all hazardous equipment.

In-depth investigation of burn injuries and “near misses” should be conducted promptly to identify contributing factors and to obtain accurate information about the events leading to the incident. Information from these investigations can increase awareness of hazards and provide data for safety training.

Every worker deserves a safe workplace. Unfortunately, injuries do occur by commission and omission. Increase employee awareness of the dangers through thorough orientation and ongoing safety training. Food truck employers should involve employees in planning and conducting safety programs and training.

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heat waveMINNEAPOLIS, MN - Working in a food truck is a hot experience on a normal day, but on Monday it’s was just unimaginable.

According to WCCO Radio’s Meteorologist Mike Lynch, the temperature topped out at 97 degrees Monday afternoon, with the humidity the heat index reached 105.

“Usually on a normal day the temperature inside the truck is around 100,” Saed Wadi, owner of the World Street Kitchen food truck, said. “So imagine on a day like this it would’ve been impossible for my crew to perform. It’s actually hazardous to be out in the truck.”

So, early Monday Wadi decided to keep his staff at home and so did several other truck owners.
“I saw on Twitter early (Monday) morning a lot of food trucks are not going out,” Wadi said. “We have to think of it not from the parking or who’s going to do more business. Our employees come first.”
For food truck owner Sandra Presley-Patterson, owner of Sandy’s Grill and Italian Ice, business was slow but not too bad, especially if you’re selling frozen treats like her.

Find the entire article by Edgar Linares at minnesota.cbslocal.com <here>

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Eggs are one of nature’s most nutritious foods and a common ingredient in the cuisines some food trucks use. But, you must take special care with handling and preparing fresh eggs and egg products to avoid food poisoning.

Egg safety

Egg Basics

Thorough cooking is an important step in making sure eggs are safe.

  • Scrambled eggs: Cook until firm, not runny.
  • Fried, poached, boiled, or baked: Cook until both the white and the yolk are firm.
  • Egg mixtures, such as casseroles: Cook until the center of the mixture reaches 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.
  • Homemade ice cream and eggnog are safe if you do one of the following:
    • Use a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160 °F.
    • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
  • Dry meringue shells, divinity candy, and 7-minute frosting are safe — these are made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. However, avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. But avoid chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites — instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • Adapting Recipes: If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, make it safe by doing one of the following:
    • Heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then, combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Or use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
    • Using pasteurized eggs or egg products.

Egg Recipes: Playing It Safe

Note: Egg products, such as liquid or frozen egg substitute, are pasteurized, so it’s safe to use them in recipes that will be not be cooked. However, it’s best to use egg products in a recipe that will be cooked, especially if you are serving pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Egg Storage Chart

ProductRefrigeratorFreezer
Raw eggs in shell3 to 5 weeksDo not freeze. Instead, beat yolks and whites together; then freeze.
Raw egg whites2 to 4 days12 months
Raw egg yolks2 to 4 daysYolks do not freeze well.
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shellUse immediately after thawing.Keep frozen; then
refrigerate to thaw.
Hard-cooked eggs1 weekDo not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
Unopened
10 days12 months
Egg substitutes, liquid
Opened
3 daysDo not freeze.
Egg substitutes, frozen
Unopened
After thawing, 7 days or refer to “Use-By” date.12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen
Opened
After thawing, 3 days or refer to “Use-By” date.Do not freeze.
Casseroles with eggs3 to 4 daysAfter baking, 2 to 3 months.
Eggnog
Commercial
3 to 5 days6 months
Eggnog
Homemade
2 to 4 daysDo not freeze.
Pies
Pumpkin or pecan
3 to 4 daysAfter baking, 1 to 2 months.
Pies
Custard and chiffon
3 to 4 daysDo not freeze.
Quiche with filling3 to 4 daysAfter baking, 1 to 2 months.

 

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COLUMBUS, OH - The Columbus Department of Public Safety is writing new regulations for mobile food trucks and adding a fresh layer of inspections.

columbus dept of public safety

Also, as part of the current budgeting process, City Council has recommended spending $150,000 to hire more licensing officers through public safety.

Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for the department, said the proliferation of food trucks has caused the city to take a closer look at safety issues associated with the mobile units.

The division of fire, for example, inspects propane hookups at festivals and special events, but it’s not a requirement, Ford said.

She pointed to one incident at last year’s Red White & Boom, in which a food truck’s propane tank exploded.

No one was injured, “but those are the kinds of things we’re looking at,” Ford said.

Right now, the department has inspection power over push carts.

The latest move is part of a broader plan to draft additional inspection requirements to complement what is being done by Columbus Public Health, Ford said.

Operating restrictions, such as future locations, are among the new rules under consideration. The plan is to keep the trucks viable, but for them to remain safe and not impede traffic, she said.

Columbus now regulates 150 food trucks and 70 push carts, Ford said.

Find the entire article by Gary Seman Jr. at thisweeknews.com <here>

 

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October is national vegetarian month and RetailMeNot.com created this great infographic below that highlights some interesting facts about vegetarians and provides some of the key reasons to go vegetarian or vegan and how to do it.

Here are some interesting facts in the infographic below:

  • Vegans have the lowest average cholesterol levels
  • Vegans and vegetarians are about 40% less likely to get cancer than people who eat meat, regardless of other health risks like smoking or body mass
  • 31% of vegetarians avoid meat because of food safety concerns

And here’s the infographic:

vegetarian month

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Today we would like to welcome and introduce a new contributing author at Mobile Cuisine. Marcie Newman is a Safety Manager for a company-owned fleet of 65+ food trucks stationed at United Caterers, Inc. – a commissary with over 200 customers operating in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Over the last 6 years, she has developed and administered the industry’s first comprehensive Risk Management Program for hot trucks, featuring Vehicle Maintenance, Equipment & Workplace Safety, Driving Safety, Food Handling Safety, and First Aid. She also conducts accident investigations, handles insurance claims, serves as legal liaison, and works with over 85 North Texas municipalities to facilitate the permitting process for their customers.

In Marcie’s first article at Mobile Cuisine, she covers some basic food truck driving safety that everyone that drives a food truck should be aware of. Not only do these rolling bistros handle differently than most privately owned vehicles, they are the life blood of a food truck business. Every time your truck is in the shop means you are not able to hit the streets to sell your food truck fare.

Just when you thought you were having a bad day . . .

Whenever one of the girls in the office starts to complain, we have a little saying to remind us of how lucky we are: “If you think you’re having a bad day . . . just go out to the shop!”   Our mechanics are definitely some of the hardest working people around, and new challenges are always just around the corner.   Every once in a while I get the opportunity to see them in action – usually when I’m dispatched for an accident investigation.

I have to admit . . . when I first arrived at the scene of this accident, I was very tempted to just keep on driving.   A few months before, those colorful “Look at me!” decals seemed like a really good idea when we decided to install our first full wrap, but now . . . not so much.

Luckily, our mechanic arrived quickly, and I was hoping he would be able to get us out of there just as quick.   He exited the tow truck . . . I looked at him . . . he looked at me . . . I looked at him.   We knew we were supposed to do something, but what?   After years of investigating food truck accidents, this was a new predicament for both of us, so I decided I would just start taking my photos.

By far, this one’s my favorite:

Food Truck Accident

Thankfully, everyone was alright, and after speaking to the driver, I learned that she was “just driving along” when she hit a slick patch, and the truck “went flying”.   Since I was pretty sure this was not 100% exactly what happened, I knew I was going to have to find a way to dig deeper.   While the mechnic tried to figure out how to get her down and bring her home, I went over to speak with the special investigator.

It turns out that speed was a huge factor (you don’t say!) – he determined that she had to be going more than 70 miles-per-hour at the time of the accident.   In fact, in his opinion, if she’d been traveling only a few miles-per-hour faster, the truck would’ve rolled right over the median (instead of straddling it ever so gracefully), heading straight into oncoming traffic. In light of the fact that she was not wearing her seatbelt, he was certain that (in this scenario), not only would the driver have been killed, but it is very likely that there would have been more serious injuries.

So how did this accident happen?

  • Experienced driver . . . check!
  • Well-maintained equipment (with fully-functioning brakes and seatbelts) . . . check!
  • Active participation in a safety program . . . check!
  • No more stops for the rest of the day . . . check!

Actually, we can all guess how it happened . . . she was obviously speeding, and the truck hydroplaned, spun around a few times, triple toe loop, etc.   But the real question is “why?”   In my experience, the answer is usually that the driver was distracted.   Whether she was worried about picking her kids up from school, calculating how much gas to put in her tank, stressing about the business she lost in the rain, or even talking on the phone, the reality is that food truck operators can be some of the most distracted drivers around.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.   On top of the usual distractions, it is critical for food truck operators to realize that every time they step into their truck, it’s a different truck.   The weight is constantly shifting from loading product, melting ice, washing dishes, etc.   For this reason alone, operating your vehicle demands your full attention, especially when road or weather conditions are a factor.   Every time you take the wheel, you have the power to decide what’s important, and make a priority of driving safely.

So eliminate all distractions, adjust your safety cushion, focus your attention – and remember . . . you might think you’re having a bad day, but it can always get much worse!

Stay safe!

 

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On top of the long hours, scorching heat, and other factors challenging food truckers across North Texas, there’s a new danger lurking in the shadows, just beyond your service windows.  While customers are feasting on your tasty treats, city officials warn that mosquitoes could be feasting on you!

West-Nile-Virus

In an interview with Fox 4 News, Dallas County Health and Human Services spokesman Zachary Thompson reports that, as a result of the steady rise in mosquito populations and cases of West Nile Virus over the last 6 years, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex has become the epicenter for outbreaks of West Nile in the United States.

With 2 confirmed deaths this season and another 70 confirmed cases, Mr. Thompson says that, in spite of the City’s efforts to treat the affected neighborhoods, “we can’t spray ourselves out of this situation” and “there are going to be more deaths” if residents don’t take responsibility to control these populations and protect themselves from being bitten.

As a growing hot spot for the gourmet trend, many DFW food truckers are extending their hours, bringing dinner and late-night options to frenzied fans during peak mosquito hours – from dusk ‘til dawn.   Route truck operators serving breakfast and lunch are also vulnerable during the early morning hours when heat-seeking insects are better able to spot them against the backdrop of cooler temperatures.

To protect against the virus, food truckers and their fans should take special precautions when participating in outdoor activities during peak hours from May through October.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is closely monitoring these outbreaks and promoting their “Fight The Bite!” campaign, which calls for:

  • Applying Insect Repellent Containing DEET to exposed skin and the outside of clothing
  • Wearing Clothing to cover exposed skin when weather permits (long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks)
  • Being Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours
  • Draining Standing Water
  • Installing or Repairing Screens

In addition to these recommendations, food truckers may also want to consider the following:

  • Avoiding service locations near areas with standing/stagnant water
  • Emptying/Rinsing pots and pans at the end of each shift
  • Repairing any leaks in the plumbing system (sinks, ice bins, water/waste tanks)
  • Repairing screens/windows and closing them when the truck is not in operation
  • Consulting with event planners and owners of food truck venues to make them aware of the risks

According to the CDC, West Nile is a neuroinvasive disease with an incubation period of 2-15 days and symptoms lasting from a few days to several weeks.  While most people infected with West Nile show no signs of illness, approximately 20% will exhibit the following symptoms:

Mild Symptoms
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Body Aches
  • Skin Rash (on the trunk of the body)
  • Swollen Lymph Glands
Severe Symptoms
  • High Fever
  • Headaches
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Paralysis

Educating yourself about the dangers of West Nile and taking precautions to avoid being bitten are the best ways to prevent a life-threatening infection.  Always remember to read the instructions before applying insect repellant, and be sure to seek prompt medical attention if you have reason to believe that you might be infected.

Visit the CDC website to learn more about the dangers of West Nile in your area:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm

Stay safe!

 

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Last year nearly 13,600 food industry workers lost at least a day of work because of a work-related laceration.

The number represents 15.5 percent of all injuries to restaurant and food truck workers, making it the second leading cause of injury behind slips, trips and falls.

Knife Safety

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates these hand injuries cost the foodservice industry about $300 million a year in medical costs, lost time from work and workers’ compensation insurance payouts.

By following these seven simple steps you and your food truck employees can protect themselves from lacerations.

Separate Sharps

The most dangerous knife is the knife you cannot see. For that reason it is important to keep knives out of dish tubs or sinks. Create a designated tub for dirty knives in the workplace or have employees who are using the knives personally clean them after use.

Proper Techniques

Before you give the keys to the knives to your staff ensure they are trained on proper knife usage. This includes:

  • Cutting away from the body and not toward,
  • When walking through a busy kitchen with a knife in your hand, always keep the blade pointed down and carry it close to your body
  • Always hand a knife by holding the non-sharpened side of the knife and extending the handle to a person
  • Never attempt to catch a falling knife. Just let it fall to the floor.

Cutting Gloves

Made from stainless steel, Kevlar or other materials resistant to sharp objects, cutting gloves are a great addition to any kitchen. While these gloves are extremely effective in preventing cuts it is important to remember they are cut resistant, not cut proof- injuries can still occur. When purchasing these gloves make sure you order multiple sizes to ensure each member of your kitchen staff has a properly fitting glove.

Cutting Boards

The utilization of cutting boards prevents objects from slipping while they are being cut. For this reason it is important to make sure all your employees are using cutting boards and that the boards you have are in good working condition.

Maintenance

Perhaps the most common cause of foodservice lacerations is dull and improperly maintained knives. Dull blades not only slip but decrease accuracy and performance. You should have blades sharped at least once to twice a week depending upon usage. When sharpening knives also inspect the handles and if loose tighten. If the handle cannot be tightened the blade should be properly disposed.

Focus

The operation of a knife is a dangerous job requiring complete concentration. It is important to have a policy in place that instructs employees not to communicate with one another when one is using a knife. While it may sound a bit impractical it will increase efficiency and reduce accidents.

Use the correct knife for the job

You wouldn’t hammer a nail with a screw driver, so don’t cut bread with a non-serrated blade. Ensure your employees have proper training on what knife to use for what job. Here are a few pointers…

Chef’s Knife: Great for chopping large or very firm vegetables. Best for: Onions, carrots, potatoes, peppers, celery, meat.

Serrated Knife: A serrated knife is the most efficient (and safest) way to slice. Best for: Tomatoes, bread, citrus fruits, pies, quiches, pizza.

Paring Knife: The fine, small blade paring knife is for delicate precision work on all kinds of small food items. Best for: Apricots, plums, berries, apples, shallots, garlic, fresh herbs.

 

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tip of the dayIf you are the owner of a food truck business, establishing a driving safety manual for your employees may be just as important as your food safety manual. When you or your employees are behind the wheel of your food truck you are in control of not only your own lives but the safety of your entire mobile food business. The responsibilities you are bestowing on the drivers of your food truck business are great and you should establish a training program that will help them understand the importance of this task.

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In today’s earlier article we covered a story of a food truck owner being hit and killed by another driver. This and the fact that the winter months are coming to us quickly got us thinking to provide a list of tips that truck owners and drivers should maintain constant knowledge of to prevent themselves from being the next or causing the next fatality on the road.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

The most important part of a moving truck is the driver! Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. Eat well and stay fit. Remember, driving without proper rest can threaten your livelihood or even your life. Stay healthy and well rested, or don’t drive!

ALWAYS MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE
Inspect your vehicle before each trip and check your brakes regularly. Learn how to inspect your brakes, identify safety defects, and get them repaired before risking your life and others on the road.

BE AWARE OF YOUR “NO-ZONE”
Other drivers may not be aware of the size of your truck’s blind spots. Be vigilant in watching out for vehicles in the No-Zone. The No-Zone represents the danger areas, or blind spots, around trucks where crashes are more likely to occur. One-third of all crashes between trucks and cars take place in the No-Zone.

SLOW DOWN IN WORK ZONES
Watch out for road construction. Stay alert. Work zone crashes are more likely to happen during the day. Almost one-third of fatal crashes in work zones involved trucks. Take your time going through work zones and give yourself plenty of room. Expect the unexpected!

ALWAYS KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
Always leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you hit someone from behind, you are typically considered “at fault,” regardless of the situation. Trucks require more stopping distances than other vehicles. Take advantage of your driving height, and anticipate braking situations.

FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT
Buckle up for safety and control. If you are in a crash, a seat belt can save your life and those around you. It will keep you in your seat and allow you to maintain control of your truck. A major cause of truck fatalities involves being ejected from the vehicle. Wearing seat belts is still the single most effective thing all drivers can do to save lives and reduce injures on our roadways.

ALWAYS DRIVE DEFENSIVELY
Avoid aggressive drivers! It’s estimated that each year two-thirds of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving behaviors. Keep your distance and maintain a safe speed. The only thing speed will increase is your chance for a crash.

WORK TO HELP YOURSELVES
Be the professional on the highway and at safety events! Help stranded motorists; notify traffic safety agencies of crashes, unsafe drivers, unsafe roadway conditions, and other situations that can lead to crashes. Your participation in public safety events and your performance on the highway can change public perception!

We understand that these tips would not have prevented Jose Goncalves’ death; however we felt that providing these tips can still help those who spend time behind the wheel of a food truck. Please be safe on the roads.

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