Food trucks offer an easy alternative for both restaurant owners and patrons. Restaurant owners have a significantly reduced point of entry cost to open a food truck and to serve customers, while guests can often receive a quality, freshly produced meal for less than what they’d spend at a more traditional restaurant. However, despite operating out of a moving vehicle, these restaurants are still the subject of annual health inspections. Naturally, some inspection variables do not exist simply because of the preparation method, but food truck operators are not able to open up shop without approval from their city of origin. One locally operated food truck recently failed its annual health inspection.
Saigon Express is a rather popular food truck here in Tucson that specializes in Vietnamese food, including pho. During its routine inspection, performed on September 2 of this year, the food truck was hit with two critical infractions that resulted in failing its inspection.
The first failure of Saigon Express was there was no commissary agreement letter to run a mobile unit on display within the vehicle. Much like a traditional restaurant must have a license on full display, so too must a mobile restaurant. Often, when a restaurant is found to be out of compliance with points of concern, the health inspector allows the restaurant the ability to make any necessary corrections during the time of the inspection. However, this is an issue that could not be corrected in the given time. Instead, the owners of Saigon Express must obtain a commissary agreement letter before the next permit renewal inspection. Following a failed health inspection, this secondary inspection often occurs within a month, so a follow-up inspection will take place in the coming weeks.
The second major failure of the inspection took place with the tested temperature of the refrigerator within the vehicle. All flip-top refrigerators must maintain a temperature of no warmer than 41 degrees, but the observed ambient temperature of the flip-top refrigerator found within the vehicle tested at 45 degrees. This is too high to ensure bacteria is unable to develop on stored food. Because temperature plays such a critical role in the control of food safety, this is a priority failure and it must be fixed within 10 days. During a secondary inspection made after a 10-day window, if this has not been corrected Saigon Express faces being forcibly shut down by the health inspection department here in Tucson.
The third overall violation was a failure to have chemical test strips for the three-compartment sinks within the vehicle. These test strips mark the sanitizing solutions within the vehicle and must be displayed. As is the case with the refrigerator reading, Saigon Express has up to 10 days to make the necessary correction.