Food trucks are rolling into virtually every big city and many small towns across India. With food made so convenient and affordable, it is a usual sight to see people flocking in the counter. The burning question: Is it safe to grab a bite from a truck that cooks for hundreds in a space that's a fraction of the size of your kitchen? Are they hygienic? Do they religiously follow the food safety regulations? We break it down for you.
Storing Food in Wrong Food Temperatures
The quality of food served really depends on the food truck. One of the most common hygiene-related violation observed is storing food in unsafe temperatures. Cold foods must be stored below 5C. There has also been a common observation in vendors who let hot food go below 60F. That is however, not an ideal thing to do as this is the perfect setting for the food to go bad. Food Safety: Can Eating Leftover Rice Make You Sick?
Besides, the food can get contaminated during storage, preparation, transportation, display and service. To put things to perspective, it could mean anything between to not washing fruits and vegetables to unsanitary packaging. A good tip is to avoid big pieces of meat as they are good chances they won’t be washed or cooked thoroughly. No Stickers on Fruits, Vegetables, Food Safety Department Tells Traders.
Food trucks are tighter on space than restaurants with four walls, so there is limited room to change cutting boards and cutlery and avoid cross-contamination. And since there is no sitting arrangement for the customers, food truck employees rush to deliver the order in haste, often compromising on the quality. So clearly there are more chances of bacteria lurking in your food when you eat from a truck. The next time you suffer from food poisoning symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and nausea, you know whom to blame. Hotels, Restaurants Will Have to Display Hygiene Ratings on Doors; FSSAI to Launch Rating System to Ensure Good Quality Food Served.
So how can you ensure that the food you are eating from the truck is safe? These tips might come handy.
- In order to prevent cross-contamination, the staff should use separate tools to handle raw meat and vegetables. If you notice the same tong or knife being used on chicken and lettuce, step away from the food truck and look for better food options.
- Often, the staff tend to use the same cloth to clean the kitchen counter, wipe the plate and dry the hands. This can be a sure shot way of transferring the germs to the food. So keep an eye and follow the cloth.
- Another important guideline that the staff should follow in the kitchen is to ensure that they keep their hair tied. So you have every reason to doubt the hygiene if the staff do not follow proper dress code.
- If you can’t notice the hygiene cues, it can be a really wise thing to ask if they store food in a refrigerator. If they are not, you surely do not want to risk eating stale food when it is so hot outside.
Gloves too aren’t an absolute deal breaker. An employee without them can handle food safely with utensils and frequent hand-washing – they are a good sign that food safety is taken seriously at a business.