One of the fastest-growing segments of the foodservice industry is food trucks. Across the United States, food truck businesses generated over $2.3 billion in revenue this year alone, with an expected growth of $500 million by 2022.
However, having more food trucks on American roads isn’t always good.
Inexperienced operators run a significant risk of fire in this rapidly expanding segment of the foodservice industry. It’s essential to exercise caution when operating a food truck business because of the dangers of cooking appliances and chemicals. Because of this, if you are a new food truck owner, it is incredibly crucial that you do your safety homework.
So, what can you do to keep your food truck secure?
Here are a few food truck safety pointers to get you started:
Whether you cook with electric or gas appliances, you’re constantly at risk of a fire breaking out. Most food truck fires are caused by cooking equipment, so many local governments have made automatic fire suppression systems mandatory. Even if your city doesn’t require it, it’s still a good idea to get one anyway, just in case.
The chemical fire-suppressing agents are released automatically in the event of a fire. In an emergency, you can turn off the power or fuel to the cooking equipment on the food truck with the manual switch included.
Ensure your food truck’s fire suppression system is installed by a professional when it’s being constructed. To keep your fire suppression system working correctly, you’ll need to have it inspected twice a year by a professional. To find an inspector in your area, ask the system’s manufacturer to direct you to a certified distributor to perform routine maintenance and inspections.
Every food truck business relies on a high-quality ventilation system to keep the kitchen free of smoke, steam, dust, and other debris. It also controls oil droplets from building up on the pan’s surface, preventing greasy kitchens.
When left unchecked, Grease, smoke, dust, steam, and other substances can harm workers’ health and safety. Slippery conditions, such as those caused by oily surfaces, can lead to many unfortunate events. Food can become contaminated by dust, steam, and debris, which pose health risks.
As a result, regular inspection and maintenance of your vent system are essential to ensuring that it operates at peak efficiency. On top of that, you must inspect and clean the various parts regularly. The food truck’s vent hood, exhaust fan, hood filters, grease containment system, and ductwork are all things to watch.
Hood filters are prone to damage and should be monitored regularly for any indications of wear. A replacement may be necessary if the problem persists. In addition, make sure your exhaust fan belts are in good working order. Because fan belts are so easily broken, it’s a good idea to keep an extra on hand just in case.
Make sure to inspect the wiring on your fan and motor for signs of wear and tear. Ensure that the upblast exhaust fan is always in a level position. The bearings should also be kept in top shape. Flying debris and harsh weather conditions will strain your truck’s roof-mounted fan. As a result, you’ll have to keep an eye out for damage and check it regularly.
Buy a lot of extinguishers for class K. These are the best to put out Grease, oil, and fats fires. Such fires have high temperatures and may be difficult to extinguish with anything other than a truck fire extinguisher. However, ABC extinguishers can eliminate electrical, paper, plastic, and wood fires.
It is important to remember that class K fire extinguishers work best in conjunction with an in-house hood suppression system.
The NFPA Fire Code mandates quarterly inspections of high-volume equipment for food truck owners. The NFPA requires semi-annual inspections for systems used in medium-volume operations.
Regulatory authorities also require monthly inspections of exhaust systems that serve cooking equipment that uses solid fuels and other requirements. A certified inspector must inspect your exhaust system monthly if you use charcoal/wood-burning ovens or food warmer burners.
You’ll need to invest in proper employee training to keep your food truck on the road. In addition to helping, you pass health inspections, training your employees will also help you avoid fires and other workplace hazards.
That’s why food truck safety training is necessary for everyone on your staff. Free online courses teach your employees how to handle food, equipment, and emergencies properly. However, if you’re not a DIY fanatic, you can pay a small fee to have the work done by a professional.
If one of your employees becomes ill, you should wait for them to recover before allowing them to return to work. There are several reasons why allowing sick employees to prepare food is a bad idea. Aside from their symptoms, including coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea, they can contaminate food.
Second, operating cooking equipment while ill makes it more likely that an accident will occur. Additionally, health inspectors have the authority to shut down your business if they discover that you’re allowing sick employees to prepare food.
Take a walk through your mobile kitchen twice a month and note any safety issues. This way, potential safety concerns can be identified early on, allowing you to devise an appropriate course of action before the situation worsens.
In other words, you’ll need to conduct regular self-inspections and look for any potential problems with your equipment. However, a health inspection form is required if you want to do the latter. You can either get them for free from the website of your local health department or borrow some from the inspector who oversees your care.