Over two years ago, Los Angeles launched the nation’s first food truck-inspection system, bent on giving our mobile fleet of eateries their own letter grades. Now Daily News L.A. sees that the program is still a little slow to get rolling. In fact, food truck operators are complaining about the sparse oversight. Jeffrey Wedner of The Reuben Truck tells the paper, “There are woefully too few inspectors,” despite the boon of having a giant blue “A” on the side of his truck that was given out in 2011.
Even officials with the County Public Health Department admit to the challenges of catching up with the local fleet, with its own director admitting, “The problem is it’s not very efficient yet for trucks that don’t have predetermined routes. That’s what’s difficult for us.”
So while we wait for that entire bureaucratic arm to hear of Twitter, only about 1,438 street food vendors have actually been inspected out of 6,000, a task made more difficult by the transitive nature of their schedules and whereabouts, as well as the sludgy pace of having authorities sift through truck-submitted paperwork.
Now the department is awaiting salvation from a new software program that will help it relaunch the drive in July. Inspectors will be able to follow trucks’ whereabouts using a handheld scanner, which can file reports with photos and post them online for the public to peruse.
Of course, long-term lonchero fans aren’t very concerned with the whole process and its outcome. But the recent explosion of new food trucks catering to a different demo, the one still likely to refer to rolling restaurants with the ugly misnomer “roach coaches,” includes a clientele that is often afraid to eat from random catering vehicles. The Public Health Department would like to change that.
Terri Williams, the assistant director at the county’s public health department’s environmental health division, says, “We want to have the very best food truck system in the country, but the problem is if we don’t have all the information in our hand, we don’t know if it has been inspected. We’re trying to figure out the smartest way to ensure public safety on the trucks.”