Food trucks in Sacramento County will soon have something new in common with regular restaurants.
Food trucks are all the buzz in Sacramento as more people search out quick, delicious street food. In 2011, Sacramento Mobile Food (SactoMoFo) helped introduce the city to the food truck industry and held its first festival event at Fremont Park. The food truck festival attracted more than 10,000 attendees the first year and has since grown.
Starting this summer, the mobile food trucks seen around town will have to display color-coded health inspection placards such as the ones seen at regular restaurants in Sacramento County.
The county adopted a color-coded placard system in 2007 to let customers know if a food facility has passed health inspections. A green placard means a restaurant passed, yellow is a conditional pass, meaning there are a few things that need to be fixed, and red is an immediate closure of a facility due to a health threat.
When the color-code system was adopted in 2007 there weren't many food trucks in Sacramento, according to Kelly McCoy, spokesperson for Sacramento County.
This is why food trucks weren't included in the color-code system.
Fast-forward 10 years and there are now 210 food trucks operating in the county.
With more food trucks running, the county decided to include the mobile businesses in the color-code health inspections.
The placards also help assure customers their food is being handled safely.
"The public is wanting more disclosure," said McCoy.
Food trucks are required to have a permit for every county they're operating on. If a truck passed health inspection for Sacramento County, it doesn't mean they're cleared to operate in Placer or Yolo County.
Food trucks have always had to pass health inspections as required by the state for all food facilities. The food handling process is slightly different in a food truck given their structure, compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Health inspectors have to look for factors in food trucks that restaurants normally don't have to worry about, according to McCoy.
For example, restaurants normally have running water and electricity consistently, where as food trucks have to change out waste water daily and make sure their generators are running correctly to keep their refrigerators at the right temperature. The smaller space in food trucks also creates operational challenges such more chances of cross-contamination.
Health inspectors conduct two health inspections a year on food trucks. One is to make sure the truck is equipped for food safety, the other is to inspect food safety practices.
The color-coded placards won't change the way food trucks are inspected. The only difference now is the placards will be displayed for consumer knowledge.