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Before you finish putting your menu together, building your perfectly retrofitted truck you need to get your licensing in order. While that's not one of the more exciting aspects of your entrepreneurial pursuit, it's one of the most important. It is, in fact, the overall commitment to more stringent health codes and sanitary regulations that have paved the way for food vehicles to generate such a mass following. The knock against food carts and trucks has long been that they were neither clean nor sanitary. Now, as that widespread perception changes, foodies and non foodies alike can enjoy their fare with confidence that those running the business are doing their utmost to meet, and surpass, sanitary requirements.
It would probably take several volumes to list and explain the numerous permits and licensing requirements because each state as well as most cities and even counties have their own. However, there are many universal concerns that need to be addressed. Typically, your local department of health will have the information you need. Therefore, you can get started by looking up the local health department online or in your local Yellow Pages and calling to inquire about the necessary requirements. The state or city will have specific requirements that must be met depending on your mode of operation.
If you are selling prepackaged foods, you are not considered a food handler and may have less stringent requirements than if you are actually preparing foods or even scooping ice cream. As long as food is unwrapped, you are typically considered to be a food handler and must meet specific regulations. While your  truck designer will not know the nuances of each city's requirements, he or she can usually help you meet health standards. Before you can hit the road, health inspectors will inspect your vehicle. What are inspectors actually looking for? In Nominal Case., for example, an inspection is conducted to verify the following:

  1. Proof of ownership, proper identification and license (of the vehicle)
  2. Proof of District-issued Food Manager Identification Card
  3. Food-purchase record storage and record keeping
  4. That your depot, commissary or service support facility meets your vending unit operation needs
  5. Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report.

Food vehicles are typically inspected at least once a year by a health department inspector, sometimes randomly. The inspector checks to see how food is stored so that it does not spoil and that it is kept at the proper temperature. All food equipment as well as sinks and water supplies are checked. Commercial kitchens and garages in which food vehicles are kept are also inspected frequently and can be given high fines if they do not meet health and fire codes. Some have been shut down because of too many violations. Likewise, trucks and carts have lost their licenses over repeated violations.




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