Trendy food trucks are convenient and offer unique, gourmet meals. When ordering a crispy tofu taco, a Maine lobster roll or a barbecue pulled pork slider from a food truck, avoid getting a side order of E. Coli, Salmonella and a trip to the ER.
Even though food trucks move to different locations on a daily basis, they basically are restaurants on wheels and must adhere to local and state food safety rules and receive regular inspections. Millions of people get sick from food poisoning and thousands of people die every year. Before you take another bite from a food truck, be informed and follow these food safety precautions. Preventing food poisoning must always be a priority. Better to be safe than sick.
As a consumer, here’s how to conduct your own food safety checks to reduce your risk of food poisoning.
1. Clean and Tidy
Make a quick visual observation of the truck’s cleanliness. Are counters, utensils and cutting boards clean? Is the area free of flies, ants and cockroaches? Are employees wearing gloves and using tongs? Is there a place to clean their hands with warm, soapy water? Do you see a health inspection certificate or permit, perhaps a letter grade?
2. Keep It Separate
Are fruits and vegetables on a separate cutting board from raw meat, chicken or seafood to avoid cross-contamination? Make sure raw juices aren’t dripping on ready-to-eat foods.
3. Keep It Hot
Heat kills harmful bacteria. Using a thermometer is the only way to tell if food is thoroughly cooked to the recommended minimum internal temperature. Do you see the food handler checking freshly made meals with a thermometer? Food should be piping hot and should not look undercooked.
4. Keep It Cold
Are cold foods kept in a refrigerator? And be sure to refrigerate your leftovers within two hours, or only one hour if it is over 90°F, of receiving the food to avoid the growth of bacteria.
5. Get Sick?
If you think that you became sick from eating food at a food truck, call your doctor or go to a hospital. It’s important to report food poisoning to the local county or city health department in order to alert them to potential outbreaks.