Scroll to top
  • Hours: 10:00am - 8:00pm

4 Common Health Code Violations (and How To Avoid Them)

legionfoodtrucks - April 5, 2023 - 0 comments

For any type of food-related endeavor, health code violations can spell doom for your brand image and finances, a fact Chipotle had to learn the hard way. What’s more, these inspections occur without any prior notice, leaving you with almost no time for preparation.

You need to be constantly wary about a local health inspection if you run a food truck business. To ensure you are always ready for surprise health inspections, here are four health code violations common with food truck businesses and what you should do to avoid them. 

6 Common Food Truck Permits You Need To Start Your Business CTA

1. Improper Food Storage

When it comes to food storage, there are lots of things to consider. On the one hand, how you store your food or ingredients determines their durability before using them. But improper storage can risk cross-contamination, which is the transfer of bacteria from one food item to another.

To ensure the utmost safety here, health inspectors then pay attention to five factors. These are the temperature at which you store your food, the containers used for food storage, the location you keep your food containers, the arrangement of these containers, and the labels on the containers.

Violations regarding food storage always stem from one or multiple of these factors, and some examples of these violations include storing food containers close to chemicals, having food containers without date and time labels, storing ready-to-eat food at the bottom shelf, and using residential food containers for commercial purposes.

You avoid health code violations by following best practices and recommendations on each of these five factors. For instance; 

  • When it comes to food arrangement in your refrigerator, you have to store ready-to-eat food at the topmost shelf, followed by seafood, then raw beef, ground meat, and then raw/ground poultry at the bottom.
  • You store food at the right temperature (e.g. milk below 40°F).
  • Always label food that isn’t in its original packaging.
  • Never place food containers on the floor. 

2. Bad Time and Temperatures Control (TTC)

Although time and temperature control (TTC) covers some areas of food storage, it generally relates to the length of time and temperature at which you handle your food. It involves practices and recommendations around how you deal with time/temperature-controlled food such as milk, meat, seafood, sprouts, tomatoes, and leafy greens, to mention a few.

During health inspections, particular focus is placed on how you thaw frozen food, labels placed on TTC food, and the process through which you cool food.

For instance, you risk a health violation if you thaw food by leaving it out on your food truck counter, store food in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, or put hot food right into the freezer. Instead, what you want to do to avoid TTC violations is to;

  • Always thaw your food in the refrigerator or under cool running water.
  • Store cold-storage food in recommended temperatures below 40°F and hot-storage food in temperatures above 140°F.
  • Give your warm food an ice water bath before placing it in cold storage
  • Always label containers having TTC food in them with the right storage time and temperature. 

3. Poor Personal Hygiene

Given how much bacteria and viruses we are exposed to every second, it’s no surprise that inspectors give personal hygiene the same reverence as storage and TTC. Personal hygiene particularly holds weight when it comes to food contamination or cross-contamination, and understanding the right steps to take helps you avoid hefty penalties.

Some common health violations here revolve around washing hands, wearing ornamental accessories on duty, or missing pieces of clothing from your work apparel such as face masks or hairnets. To avoid penalties, you should then;

  • Ensure you or staff members are free from contagious diseases like E. coli and hepatitis A. 
  • Do well to frequently wash your hands with warm water and for 20 seconds at least. Chipotle’s E. coli problems could’ve been avoided if these two measures were taken. 
  • Wear caps, hairnets, gloves, and any other recommended pieces of clothing
  • Wash hands only at designated hand-washing sinks
  • Avoid coughing over food

4. Improper Kitchen and Utensil Sanitation

Your kitchen and utensil sanitation falls in the same category as your personal hygiene. This is in the sense that improper sanitation of the kitchen or poor storage of utensils means you risk contaminating or cross-contaminating your food with bacteria or fungi. 

For instance, you risk a health violation when you store clean cutting boards flat on a surface, dry your utensils with a piece of cloth, store knives in a drawer, have rusted shelves, or have food debris under equipment, among others. What you want to do is;

  • Always thaw your food in the refrigerator or under cool running water.
  • Store cold-storage food in recommended temperatures below 40°F and hot-storage food in temperatures above 140°F.
  • Always air-dry your dishes and utensils.
  • Create a daily kitchen cleanup checklist in which you cover every piece of equipment in use.
  • Store in-use utensils in a dipper well with running water.
  • Store knives in a knife holder.
  • Use separate utensils for your meat and vegetables.
  • Never use another item to scoop ice other than your ice scoop.
  • Always sanitize surface-cleaning towels.

Get Your Truck Ready For a Health Inspection

Due to variations in sanitary practices across different states, you should go through your local food health recommendations to know where your obligations lie. These codes and practices may seem overwhelming, but you should understand that no one plays with health risks. You don’t want to end up in the newspapers for the wrong reasons. 

At Legion Food Trucks, we guarantee that every food truck we create will pass health inspection. In many cases, we can even leverage our relationships with various health departments to expedite the process. Contact us to meet your food truck compliance requirements today!

New Call-to-action

Related posts