One of the hottest trends in dining out is on wheels. Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular across the country. Century Products’ home city, Greensboro, NC, recently started a trial to see whether the city can accommodate food trucks. That got me wondering about food truck sanitation and cleaning rules. Even though food trucks are like small restaurants, they aren’t always required to follow the same sanitation rules. Most food trucks are regulated by health departments whose rules vary by city, county and/or state. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration says there are more than 2,000 state and local agencies regulating food trucks nationwide.
According to SmartMoney, most regulators require food trucks to have hot and cold running water, a refrigerator and proper waste disposal. In some cities, food trucks must get sanitation scores, like restaurants, while in other cities, scores are not required. Some places also dictate where a truck must park in relation to restrooms so employees have access to wash their hands.
Regardless of where in America your food truck is from, we came up with five areas you shouldn’t neglect to clean. Many of these tips are also great for traditional restaurants and homes.
- The ice machine. Ice machines can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Regular cleaning will prevent contamination and foodborne illnesses.
- Your hands. As with any restaurant, all employees should keep their hands clean and sanitized.
- Underneath and behind equipment. Mobile-cuisine.com says dirt, bacteria and pests like to hide in these areas.
- Your refrigerator. This is two-fold. First, use a thermometer that’s separate from your refrigeration unit to double check temperature accuracy. Second, clean the unit’s coils. Dirty coils can make your refrigerator work harder, which can cause the temperature to fluctuate.
- Surfaces. This includes walls, floors and countertops. Food splashes from pots, pans and grills. You need to clean and sanitize all surfaces daily to prevent the growth of bacteria and spreading of germs.
The first rule to follow is to ALWAYS check with your health department for requirements. It’s never a problem to go beyond their requirements, which are generally minimum cleaning standards. Create a cleaning schedule for your truck to ensure all areas get cleaned regularly and properly. Remember, the cleaner you keep your food truck, the safer your food will be for your customers, and that will keep them coming back for more.