Health inspections: Food trucks vs. standard restaurants

Updated: Sep. 12, 2019 at 12:29 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - There are a lot of choices when it comes to eating out - from different types of food to fancy restaurants versus cheap favorites. But what goes into the health inspections for food trucks vs. brick and mortar restaurants?

Jerene Beyer from the Henrico County Health Department inspects restaurants every week, including both brick and mortar restaurants and food trucks.

Beyer says the standards are similar, but the mobile units have different requirements with their waste and water tanks.

Beyer says she gets about a call a day from someone wishing to start their own food truck, but she says it’s not easy. There’s a common misconception that you can just run it out of your house, but that’s not true.

“A lot of times the mobiles will not cook on board, they will serve from the mobile unit, they don’t do everything on a mobile," said Beyer.

Food trucks need a sort of home base called a “commissary” where you can fill up your water tank, empty waste, and do a lot of the food prep.

Food trucks can also have a bit of an advantage when it comes to inspections.

“It’s a little bit harder to find the mobile unit and conduct the inspection, whereas a brick and mortar is always staying put. Most of the time we make an appointment for mobiles, so most of the time those inspections are made by appointment," said Beyer.

It gives trucks a chance to be better prepared.

“If you’re not operating, you can have a better inspection. Our bricks and mortar, we go when they’re operating. We try to catch them (food trucks) out in the field, we’d like to catch them out in the field, because then they’re operating and we can see temperatures, we can see food handling," said Beyer.

She says she has never actually received a complaint for a food truck and believes most people don’t know that they can.

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