I Wonder: Food trailer regulations




Posted on June 20, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 6 at 12:51 PM

Do mobile food vendors undergo health and safety inspections?

Austin’s food trailer scene continues to grow in popularity. So far, about 1,200 trailers have positioned themselves all over our fair city to serve hungry patrons gourmet-quality meals on wheels.

KVUE food critic Rob Balon recently reviewed several food trailers on South Congress Avenue, which sparked the following question from a KVUE viewer, “Have they been inspected…and are they regularly inspected for compliance with all health laws?”

I am happy to answer “yes.”

According to Carol Barisch, communications manager for Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services, these local treasures are held to the same health and safety requirements as any brick and mortar restaurant. Things like checking food temperatures, refrigerators, and proper water temperatures, as well as checking rodent and insect control are just some of the yearly duties for city health inspectors.

"It doesn't matter which type of facility, it's still very important these safeguards are in place and being adhered to, to protect the public from the food they consume," Mobile Food Vendor Program Director Sue Simons told KVUE last July.

Stricter mobile food vendor regulations went in to place in October 2010. Just before those regulations went into effect, KVUE’s Steve Alberts reported on what vendors would be required:  

Mobile vendors will now have to disclose what commissary or kitchen they use to store, clean, and dispose of their products. They must provide a monthly log of their use to city officials, show a copy of their sales tax permit to both customers and the city, provide an itinerary for truck routes which enables the health department to enforce complaints regarding food illnesses, have written permission for employees to use restrooms at a nearby work site, and pay a new $125.00 fee for inspecting the storage, transportation, and use of propane gas.

Click the video player above to see Steve’s report in its entirety.

Those regulations are becoming increasingly important in order to keep tabs on this ever-growing industry.  The city estimates nearly 1,600 mobile food vendors will have set up shop in Austin as of this October.

Click here to read some of the Public Health regulations for mobile food vendors.

Click here to search for a restaurant’s inspection score.

What is your favorite Austin food trailer? Leave us a comment below!

Send your I Wonder questions to iwonder@kvue.com.

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