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Food trucks are here to stay. What might have seemed a fad a decade ago is now BIG business. The food truck niche is projected to haul in a whopping $2.7 billion in 2017. It’s not just small players either, many of the largest national chains have trucks on the road, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
Mobile Cuisine reports that up to 40,000 trucks may currently be operating—and that many of them are custom built. Being able to build a truck to meet your chain’s specifications has great advantages for your brand. However, in addition to the bells and whistles that set your trucks apart from the competition, it’s essential not to skimp on food safety. You want to be sure that refrigeration units and cooking technologies are holding your entire menu at the right temperature. Otherwise...
Chicken & Rice Guys: A Lesson Learned
Chicken & Rice Guys is a highly popular and successful business in the Boston area, with both food trucks and storefronts serving the public. Unfortunately, on April 5th of this year, reports started coming in about outbreaks of E. coli associated with their trucks. At least 15 people were sickened in one of the bigger foodborne illness outbreaks in Massachusetts. Ten of them had to be hospitalized. According to William Christopher, the commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Division, this outbreak is unique for involving a business with so many parts. Chicken & Rice Guys has four eat-in or take-out restaurants, five food trucks, and a kitchen commissary that supplies the food it sells on its trucks.
The Challenges of Food Truck Safety
The example of Chicken & Rice Guys is an excellent illustration of the unique challenges trucks can bring to food service. With five vehicles and a kitchen commissary, the chain must ensure that all six facilities maintain safe food preparation and handling. On top of that, the trucks are on the move, often stopped for hours in hot environments, and short on space for refrigeration and holding.
In fact, food regulators in Boston shut down food trucks more than four times as often as brick-and-mortar restaurants because of health violations. In 2016, nearly 10% of the city’s food trucks were targeted for immediate temporary shutdown due to health code violations. That’s an awfully high percentage. So, the challenge is: how can you centrally monitor your fleet of food trucks remotely to ensure that your entire menu is being prepared, held and served at the right temperatures?
Food Truck Safety Tips
It’s not quite clear exactly what caused the E. coli infection at Chicken & Rice Guys. Many factors could have been involved. Mobile Cuisine, therefore, offers its Top 10 Food Truck Safety Tips to make sure all bases are covered:
Note that three of the tips concern temperature.
A study conducted by the Environmental Health Specialists Network confirms the importance of temperature monitoring. It identified the key food handling practices that restaurant workers believed were the most important regarding food safety. Among those practices, temperature-related issues were predominant:
TempAlert’s Food Monitoring Solution
While food truck safety may have more than its share of temperature monitoring challenges, TempAlert offers a comprehensive Food Monitoring Solution that can meet them all.
In short, TempAlert’s remote, continuous monitoring system provides complete visibility across your food truck fleet. From a central location, your safety team can see whether the food temperatures are inside or outside of food temperature compliance.
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