Opening a food truck requires a lot of work and preparation. As a part of the preparation, you must become familiar with and adhere to the local laws that govern the mobile food industry. Failure to do so could result in your mobile business failing inspection and potentially being shut down. Since this is never a small business owners desired goal, you will want to make sure you understand the laws and ensure that your food truck follows them.
If you are opting to build your truck business from scratch rather than purchase an existing truck, you will first have to familiarize yourself with parking and zoning laws. In each city and town there are specific zones set up that separate where a particular business can operate. Before you purchase your truck, it is important that you contact the city parking and zoning departments to ensure that the area you are interested in operating in will allow your vehicle to set up shop. You will be best served to make sure you know any vehicle size limitations as well as the amount of time a food truck can remain parked in one location before being required to move.
The most important laws that you will need to understand for your food truck are those that center on the Food Code. The Food Code was established by the FDA as a guideline for local and state governments as a way to regulate the mobile food industry and protect the health and safety of consumers, residents and employees.
Though it is used as a guideline, the Food Code is not a requirement of the state and local government. Each will have their own version specific to that area. In most areas, the Department of Health will be in charge of establishing and enforcing the local Food and Health Codes. It is important that you contact the Department of Health in the beginning of your planning stages of your business to ensure that everything is done according to the local laws.
Given its name and the fact that it was established by the FDA, the Food Code can often be mistaken for regulations that only govern food. This is not accurate as the Department of Health in your local area will have laws and regulations set up that cover virtually anything related to health, food and safety in a food service business. Some things that these laws will cover include:
- Preparation, handling, storage and display of any food products that your mobile business plans to offer.
- The health, cleanliness and hygiene of the personnel that work in your business.
- All aspects of the equipment and utensils that are being used including what material they are manufactered of, the installation, and even how they are stored.
- Every facet of the utilities and services that you will need including the generators, propane and waste water, how you dispose of waste, and the way you handle pests.
- How the truck is constructed and whether it holds the proper features such as ventilation and lighting.
- Whether or not inspections are carried out, passed and any enforcement is needed.
The best way to ensure the success of your food truck business from the start is to contact the proper agencies and know your local laws before you begin planning. This allows you to ensure that everything from your equipment to your food meets the criteria in the codes so that you can pass inspection and have a successful opening day.