Over the years, food trucks have become an inextricable part of the L.A. food scene, with fans tracking a mobile kitchen's every move on social media, and waiting hours for the chance to taste the city's latest culinary trend.
But despite their recent popularity, a report from the Los Angeles Times this week says dining at food trucks might not be such a good idea after all. Since 2014, 27 percent of food trucks earned a grade less than an A during health inspections. And as if that wasn't bad enough, 70 food trucks inspected in the last year were forced to close because they were unable to meet regulations. Comparatively, only 18 percent of food carts and five percent of brick-and-mortar restaurants failed to meet the city's health standards.
Food trucks can shut down for a variety of reasons, but inspectors often looks for warning-signals associated with food-borne illnesses, such as improper storage temperatures, poor personal hygiene, and contaminated equipment. Though food trucks, food carts, and restaurants are all judged on the same criteria, the LA Times notes that food trucks are particularly susceptible to sanitary challenges. Food-truck workers operate in confined spaces and lack many of the tools big, full-service establishments have at their disposal.
The Los Angeles Times references a recent case at Loyola Marymount University where a campus food truck was shut down due to a rodent infestation, which occurred while the truck was not in use. Since food trucks are often on-the-go, it's often easier for businesses to avoid random inspections. But according to Mic, the health department requires the businesses to inform inspectors of their routes ahead of time.
"It’s not as simple as it seems,” one food truck worker told the LA Times. “It’s hard to keep everything in one compact space. They really expect a lot from us. We try our best to be prepared but [inspectors] always try to find something. It’s hard to get an A grade.”