Southern California food trucks will now be subjected to the same annual health inspections formerly reserved for full-scale restaurants.
In a vote of 5-0, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a measure on Tuesday that would issue food trucks ”A”,”B” or “C” letter grades based upon their performances on an annual inspection. Any trucks issued less than “C” due to faulty hygiene practices could be shut down by the health inspector.
While similar procedures are enforced in restaurants in San Francisco and New York City, Los Angeles would be the first county in which letter grades were issued to food trucks specifically. The new system will go into within the next thirty days.
Interestingly, Los Angeles could also be credited with resurrecting the modern day mobile eatery. High-end food trucks started popping up all over the country after chef Roy Choi started the asian fusion truck Kogi Korean BBQ in Los Angeles back in 2008, and now, according to KTLA.com, 6,000 full-service catering trucks and 3,500 smaller food carts will be affected by the new regulations.
“People are saying, ‘I see A, B, C’s at restaurants, but not trucks: Why not?’ ” Jonathan E. Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, told the New York Times, explaining that Los Angeles has experienced a 13% reduction in hospitalizations due to food-borne illness since the county started using letter grades in 1997. “We want protecting consumers against food-borne illness to be top-of-mind all the time.”
While it seems practical that food trucks should be subjected to some sort of health regulations (people often, albeit affectionately, refer to these mobile eateries as “roach coaches”), one could argue that the county is taking some fun out of the experience. Food truck owners, who are known for announcing their oftentimes impetuous travails via Twitter, will also now be required to submit detailed route maps so that inspectors can easily locate them for field inspections.