Just when we think everyone knows the whole story about food trucks — or at least the important points — someone proves us wrong. John Boyle, an Asheville Citizen-Times columnist, received a question from a reader who seemed concerned about the sanitation of mobile vendors. We thought that we’d share the question and the lengthy answer with you just in case there are others out there with lingering doubts about the safety of eating from a food truck.
“Question: Do food trucks have to adhere to the same safety standards as a restaurant? I never see the workers wear hair nets or gloves when handling food. It also appears they don’t have a place to wash their hands to avoid cross contamination.
Answer: Eddie Shook with the Buncombe County Health Department took this question on and answered in style — and length.
It is a thorough and interesting answer, though, so here it is:
‘This question does come up from time to time,’ Shook wrote. ‘Requirements for restaurants and mobile food units (food trucks) are very similar as to food handling and food protection. So much so that rules for both are in ‘The Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food Service Establishments — 15A NCAC 18A .2600.’
These are the requirements for restaurants and mobile food units:
• They must obtain all their foods from approved sources and handle them in a manner so as to be clean and free from adulteration.
• Employees must have clean outer clothing and hair restraints must be used by employees engaged in the preparation or handling of food (clean hands are required but not gloves).
• They are required to maintain potentially hazardous foods (meat, chicken, fish, etc.) at 45 degrees or below or 135 degrees or above.
• They must provide a hand-washing lavatory with hot and cold water, combination supply faucet, soap and single service towels.
Restaurants and mobile food units differ in these ways:
• Mobile food units operate in conjunction with a permitted restaurant or commissary and must report daily to the restaurant or commissary for supplies, cleaning and servicing.
• Restaurants post grade cards while mobile food units post operating permits.
• Mobile food units can only use single service eating and drinking utensils for customers.
Complaints related to noncompliance can be directed to the Buncombe County Department of Health — Environmental Health Section, at 250-5016.”
So there you go.