3 Safe Food Handling Tips Every Food Truck Biz Should Follow
Food trucks are popular go-to spots when looking for some good eats. Not only are they accessible, they also offer unique and delicious kinds of meals that you don’t ordinarily get in a restaurant. Food trucks are a way for chefs and home cooks to showcase their cooking skills and share their talent in whipping up something satisfying to our palates. And since they can be found anywhere, food trucks are also a great source of quick eats that keep you from going hungry especially when you are on the go.
Just like restaurants, food trucks are also committed to handling food with care to prevent food poisoning and other kinds of trouble. Some food trucks have been closed due to food safety concerns. So as a food truck owner, you are fully responsible in making sure that you follow proper practices in food safe handling to ensure that the meals you serve are always fresh. We have come up with a few tips that we believe could help.
Tip #1: Food Handling
Always remember that bacteria cannot move on their own. They are being transported from one place to another via food handling and by pests, such as flies, roaches, rodents, and even your own pets. So aside from keeping your workstation tidy, here are some things that you should always practice:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, most especially before handling food, after using the toilet, and in between handling raw and cooked food.
- Use kitchen utensils such as tongs, forks, spoons, spatulas, and gloves and avoid touching food with bare hands.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially when served raw.
- Clean and sanitize your work stations, utensils, and kitchenware at all times.
- Separate cutting boards, knives and plates for each type of food, like raw meat, fish, vegetables, and cooked food.
- Always use safe, treated water when cooking, preparing or cleaning.
- As much as possible use paper towels in handling food, as dishcloths and towels can carry bacteria.
- Keep your pets and pests off your food truck. Call an exterminator if you notice pests starting to invade your truck.
Tip#2: Food Storage
- Separate various types of food in your fridge, such as raw meat, dairy, ready-to-eat food and cooked food, and make sure to wrap them before putting them atop each other to avoid contamination.
- Never overstock your fridge. Always stock up your food in a way that cold air can circulate properly. Don’t forget to defrost often.
- Check the temperature of your fridge on a regular basis to ensure that your food is always kept in the right condition.
- Keep your food covered at all times to protect it from dirt, dust, insects, sneezes and spit, and others.
- Do not recycle or reuse plastic or aluminium wrap already used for other food items especially raw food.
Tip#3: Food Expiry and Storage Environment
There are certain types of food that get spoiled easily because of growth of molds and bacteria, such as dairy and raw meat. Bacteria can grow in dangerous levels that when eaten will become detrimental to health. So, to keep high-risk foods out of danger, you must:
- Always keep high-risk foods in their proper temperatures. Example: Freezing point for raw meats and seafood, while 5°c for dairy products, sandwiches, and salads.
- Defrost frozen food in the fridge or microwave set at “defrost”. This is safer compared to leaving raw food on the countertop and risk bacterial growth.
- High-risk food should be cooked and served immediately. If it is left out for more than 4 hours, dispose of it.
- Thoroughly cook food, especially meats and poultry. Make sure their meat and juices are clear and not pink. This can not only breed bacteria but also other diseases like salmonella and e-coli.
- Food, whether cooked or uncooked should be refrigerated immediately. Except for steaming hot meals, such as casseroles or soups, you may allow it to cool first before placing it inside the fridge.
- When reheating food, make sure it is steaming or boiling hot before serving it.
- Avoid storing food even in the fridge for more than 3 days.
How to Implement Food Safety Practices
On top of all these, you should also follow a regular checklist on everyone working in the food truck. Although food storage and tidiness is a priority, it is also important to make sure that the people working in it are well-equipped.
1. Train your staff properly
To ensure that all your protocols are being followed, all food truck staff must have food safety knowledge and training. When health inspectors come to ask questions, they must be knowledgeable enough to answer, otherwise you can be fined. This training is also very useful in the course of your business operations.
2. Inspect your area
At least once a month, try to go over all areas of your food truck so you can identify potential risk areas. By doing this, you will be able to immediately address food safety concerns. Some food businesses even do this at least once a week.
3. Know your local health guidelines
It is important to know your local health codes to avoid fines or foodborne illness outbreaks. Different cities may have different health codes, so check first with the locality where you plan to operate your business.
4. Check your suppliers
Food can also be contaminated anywhere in the supply chain, so it is important to know the sources of your food, if they have licenses or certificates, how long the food is being transported to your end, and how it is being stored. Get supplies from credible suppliers who offer quality goods and services for your peace of mind.
We hope that with these tips, you will be able to breeze through your food truck business with ease.