By Whitney Filloon | Dallas.Eater.com
WFAA aired an exposé on some shady food truck practices last night. Seems that in Dallas, food trucks are all required to park at a commissary overnight, where they’re thoroughly scrubbed down and cleaned—and can dispose of their waste properly and safely—but the city of Fort Worth merely requires trucks to visit a commissary once a day, and some of the mobile eateries aren’t even doing that.
Channel 8 cameras followed a handful of trucks after they shut down for the night and found they were parking at shopping malls and outside homes, but not at a commissary where they could be cleaned. One of them, Meson del Bajio, just stayed overnight at the Cowtown Chowdown Park (Fort Worth’s newest and largest food truck park, located on a former car lot) where it had been serving customers. In a segment that seemed almost too ridiculous to be true, cameras captured Meson’s operators using their truck as sleeping quarters and even a shower:
One night, owner Gabriel Lopez carried in a load of pillows, blankets and a rollaway suitcase. Then he went inside the food truck and turned out the lights. The next night it was a similar story. Except this time, his wife went into the truck and covered up the window. Soon, soapy water began pouring out the back door. When she reopened the door, she was wearing different clothes and a towel around her head.
When a reporter confronted the truck operator, he said he only visited his commissary once a month.
Fort Worth city officials refused to appear on camera and instead issued a blanket statement saying that “… food trucks … are doing sanitization throughout the day. They clean their counters, serving areas etc., just like restaurants do.” (Sure, but are restaurant staffers showering and sleeping in their kitchens?)
Perhaps Channel 8’s story—and the inevitable outcry from patrons that will follow it—will encourage the city of Fort Worth to impose stricter regulations on food trucks. In the meantime, will stories like this scare people away from eating at the city’s food trucks, which not so long ago were referred to by many as ‘roach coaches’? Hopefully a few bad apples don’t spoil the remainder of the law-abiding bunch.