SAN DIEGO–The growth and popularity of Food Trucks shows no signs of slowing. The Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” is returning for a second season. Mobile Cuisine Magazine has sprung up to offer tips to operators and entrepreneurs. Locally, sdfoodtrucks.com is ripe with information on the trend, offering both news on where the trucks are cooking and selling T-shirts that promote the movement.
Of the 1,100 mobile food operations that San Diego County now inspects through its Department of Environmental Health, 550 are in the business of preparing food for sale to the public. While the inspections ensure that operators comply with the highest levels of food safety, especially when it comes to refrigeration and preparation, the results are not prominently displayed for customers.
Supervisor Ron Roberts, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, says the time for change is now.
“The County of San Diego does a great job of ensuring food safety and our scheduled and surprise inspections are effective,” Roberts said during a press conference on Monday. “Now we need to get in step with this growing trend and provide the public with visible, letter grades so customers can quickly and easily see the trucks have passed food safety inspection.”
Because the trucks already are undergoing inspection, using the results to develop a letter grade will not be a complicated matter. Roberts anticipates the Department of Environmental Health will work closely with food industry representatives on developing the new procedures.
On Tuesday, February 28, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider Roberts’ request for the Chief Administrative Officer to report back on the feasibility, timeline and potential impacts of putting into place a letter grading system for mobile operations that prepare food.
Roberts was joined at the press conference, and supported in his effort, by the president of the San Diego County Restaurant Association and the owners of Trucked Up Productions who operate the Chop Soo-ey and Ms. Patty Melt food trucks.
A survey released in September by the National Restaurant Association showed that 59 percent of people would likely visit a food truck if it was offered by their favorite restaurant; that 18 percent saw a food truck in their community this summer and that 28 percent of those who saw a truck made a purchase.