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Food trucks may begin carrying letter grades

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Before long, curbside taco or gourmet food trucks might carry letter grades that’ll signal now clean and safe their kitchens are. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario attended a meeting Tuesday with traditional truck operators who wanted to learn about new requirements Los Angeles County may impose.

Here’s something important to know, Alfredo Magallanes tells members of La Association de Loncheros, who hope to be ready before health inspectors drop by to assess trucks and assign food grades. He’s operated his own taco truck in downtown Los Angeles for 25 years.

“La carta de bano.”

He’s talking about the bathroom letter that confirms the trucks park within 200 feet of a working sink and toilet. Every mobile food vendor is supposed to carry one of those letters, but sometimes they don’t.

Erin Glen heads the trade group. “The language divide is huge," says Glen. Most members speak little to no English and have served food in the same locations for 10 or more years.

Glen says a grading system intimidates them because a lot of their trucks are older and will need work to comply with new public health standards. “I’ve gone to meetings at L.A. County Health and they’ve been good thus far, but I only know so much. I really want somebody to be here that can answer these questions properly.”

Glen says she hopes that meeting will happen in two weeks. L.A. County supervisors could vote as early as next week on whether to apply the same letter grades restaurants display – to mobile food vendors.