LA County supervisors to vote on new food truck health standards

Food trucks at KPCC's food truck event in the Crawford Family Forum, Tuesday, October 5, 2010.
Food trucks at KPCC's food truck event in the Crawford Family Forum, Tuesday, October 5, 2010. Gina Delvac & Anny Celsi/KPCC

L.A. County supervisors are to vote Tuesday on new health standards for food trucks. That includes a requirement that trucks display health inspection letter grades like the ones on restaurants.

The Ciao Bella truck imports olive oil from northern Italy and uses family recipes. On this day, it’s parked in L.A.’s Miracle Mile district for the lunch rush.

L.A. County health inspectors already use a point system to measure the cleanliness of food truck operators like Ciao Bella. There are more than 4,000 trucks in L.A. County. The new system would convert inspection scores into grades and require operators to post them.

“If a truck’s good, then why not a big A on top of it? If a truck’s bad, put a big D, F on it. Go ahead!” Chris Williams is the only native English speaker on the Ciao Bella truck. It hit the road two weeks ago.

If the restaurant grading system is extended to include trucks, it won’t cost mobile food operators anything right away. But the county’s chief health officer Jonathan Fielding says the number of health inspections would go up. “It’ll depend upon a bunch of things," says Fielding. "Basically, what risk there is to the consumer based on the nature of food, variety of the food. How much is pre-prepared versus not.”

Fielding says the trucks likely get inspected more often are the ones that cook up raw ingredients, or that offer wide-ranging menus; they need to keep a lot of ingredients hot enough or cold enough. Health officials say whatever food truck standards L.A. County adopts will likely be adopted by cities, too. New regulations are expected by early next year.

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