Los Angeles is a city full of cars. It is no wonder then that mobile food trucks have been a wildly popular source of nourishment for the city dweller. Food trucks have been a staple in the sunny Southern California city for years, catering to everyone from construction workers to corporate big wigs. The movable food trend has been so popular in LA that stationary companies have put their food on four wheels as well, often posting their route on facebook and twitter. Even the Food Network has a show searching for the top food trucks across the nation.
And now enter Public Heath. Los Angeles County Supervisors are scheduled to vote on whether to expand restaurant health grades to food trucks. The heath inspection letter grade gives a restaurant an A, B, or C rating based on an inspector's determination of a restaurant's hygiene practices. The letter placard must be displayed in a store window for potential customer's to see -- a practice that has helped increase awareness of safe practices and reduced the risk of food-borne illnesses in the area.
The imposition of a health grade would affect approximately 10,000 food trucks in Los Angeles County. Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of the County of Public Health, explains the rationale behind the potential expansion: "People were asking us, 'We go to a restaurant. We like the grading system. But what about all these trucks that are coming. How do we know.'" The imposition of the rating system on food trucks would require a bi-annual random inspection, a task that would require officials to follow the driving path of a truck.
There are some major implications for failing a health inspection -- closing down the food truck. Perhaps the biggest concern that many in the food truck business have over the inspection is increased overhead, and the potential loss of customers if a truck does get a low grade. The leader in the food truck movement, it would not be surprising if other cities follow suit and begin inspecting trucks in a similar manner to restaurants. If the vote passes, food trucks would be subject to health inspections as early as mid-October.
- LA County Wants Food Trucks to Carry Health Letter Grade (LA Times Blog)
- Food Poisoning Prevention (FindLaw)
- Cupcake Lady Truck Seized By Philly Health Inspector (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)