Food trucks held to same health standards as restaurants - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Food trucks roll with state standards in safe grub

Madison County boasts nearly three dozen food trucks, all duty-bound by the state to serve you safe food. (Source: WAFF file) Madison County boasts nearly three dozen food trucks, all duty-bound by the state to serve you safe food. (Source: WAFF file)

More than 10,000 people are expected to turn out for Friday's food truck festival in downtown Huntsville. The festivals are now monthly events. They're bringing in the cash and new trucks are popping up on just about every corner. But are they serving you safe food?

Madison County boasts nearly three dozen food trucks. The eccentric eatables range from bacon-lettuce wraps to wood-fired pizzas. According to the Madison County Health Department, the mobile cooking craze is catching on so fast that entrepreneurs are calling them daily to request a state required inspection and food permit.

"We're on display like a fishbowl," said I Love Bacon food truck co-owner Keith Hill. And for Hill, food safety is the most important part of his business.

"All it takes is one mishap and we're out of business, said Hill.

But what does it take to shut down one of these trucks? We went straight to the Madison County Health Department for the answer.

"They go through the same inspections as restaurants," said the health department's Marcus Fitzgerald. 

Fitzgerald does health inspections for the state. According to Fitzgerald, food trucks have an additional step they need to pass before the state gives them the okay to start cooking. 

"To have a mobile food permit or a food truck permit, and this even applies to the hotdog carts, they're required to have a commissary as well, which is a base of operation," said Fitzgerald.

That means they must have a store front or home base. Food trucks,  like restaurants, are also required to post their food permit and inspection score. Any customer can request to see it if it's not visible.

Health inspectors are required to visit food trucks and restaurants every few months for inspections. Scores range from 0 to 100. A business must make at least an 85 to stay in compliance. Scores below that will result in additional inspections. A score below 60, and the state shuts the eatery down.

We pulled all food truck inspections from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Over the last 12 months 27 trucks were inspected. All 27 were in compliance. 23 trucks scored a 95 or higher and only one truck, the Taqueria Los Tres Riales, scored in the 80's.

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