Springfield, MO: More Food Trucks Means More Inspections for Health Department

By Melissa Stern | OzarksFirst.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Restaurants on wheels are allowed to park in more places than ever before in Springfield.

While they still aren’t allowed in a portion of downtown, you might be seeing more food trucks pop up along city streets.

With more areas for food trucks to set up shop, there are more places for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department to investigate.

Around Greene County, you’ll see about 50 trucks and they have to pass the same inspections as any other restaurant — with a few exceptions.

“I thought it would be a really fun business venture to offer the community. But really, the ultimate motivation is to be a part of the local food movement,” says Cina Canada, owner of the Big Red Juice Truck.

Before her truck is allowed to be open for business, Canada must meet all the guidelines of the health department.

“We’re not quite ready. We’re still getting our power sorted out, yet they were able to come in and do our inspection and get us on track right away.”

A lot of changes have been made when it comes to where food trucks can be located, but one thing remains the same: it must be safe and sanitary.

“Because it is a food truck on wheels, we want to make sure they are setting up in a place in town that is approved,” says Roxanne Sharp, a public health investigator for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. “We want to make sure that when they are making a product, that they are doing it in a food safety sanitation way.”

Sharp says there are certain requirements before a truck can receive a permit.

“What we’re looking for is if they have a three-compartment sink, does it have sanitizer for the three-compartment sink, a way to wash the dishes with some kind of detergent. Do they have a separate hand sink with soap, paper towels, hot water, in order to wash their hands? And their equipment and is their refrigeration adequate for what they’re going to be doing.”

On top of that, while solid structures have the ability to have city plumbing, food trucks have to find another way to ensure they have safe drinking water.

“They have to make sure that they have adequate city water which is what we require,” adds Sharp. “We do not want them to have well water because we don’t know if it’s been tested or not.”

Health inspectors also look at the waste water tank and ask where they will be dumping the waste water.

“So they have to worry about getting potable water refilled into their tank; make sure their tanks are clean before they put the potable water in and where they are dumping the waste water; and is there any grease going into this waste water.”

Any food truck can get a permit if all of the requirements are met. Once they have a permit, the health department sends out investigators once or twice every six months depending on what kind of food the vendor sells.

If upon inspection the food truck doesn’t pass for whatever reason, the health department can take away a permit and shut them down until they get things taken care of.