Foodservice Equipment Reports

San Diego Food Trucks Have To Make The Grade

It’s back to school for food trucks in San Diego. The county’s 60-year-old restaurant letter-grading program is being expanded to about 550 mobile food facilities, encompassing 250 hot-food trucks and 300 carts that serve items like coffee and hot dogs.

The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously July 11 to begin issuing the letter grades after local media began investigating why food trucks—though subject to inspections—weren’t treated more like their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

“Everyone deserves to know that the food they order is stored, prepared and presented in a manner that assures public health no matter if the restaurant has wheels or not,” Board Chair and Supervisor Ron Roberts told the San Diego Union Tribune. The newspaper’s investigation found that half of the trucks and carts inspected during the past two years were written up for one or more violations, ranging from improper hand-washing facilities, inadequate food-handler training and potentially contaminated food surfaces.

The posting of “A,” “B” and “C” grades will begin sometime in December. Operators who earn less than an “A” could face administrative penalties or the modification, suspension or revocation of their health permit if they fail to improve their scores. Food-truck operators also will be required to update their whereabouts and provide a mobile telephone number where they can be reached.

The county projects a $40 to $62 increase for a mobile-food-truck permit, which currently costs $447.

The new grades, like those for the 12,000 restaurants currently regulated by the health department, will be posted online at EatSafeSanDiego.org.