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Thread: Majority of Calgary food trucks fail to make the food safety grade

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    Default Majority of Calgary food trucks fail to make the food safety grade

    Majority of Calgary food trucks fail to make the food safety grade

    BY MICHAEL PLATT ,CALGARY SUN
    FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012 06:53 PM MDT | UPDATED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012 07:09 PM MDT

    Tasty, trendy and potentially toxic.

    That’s the local health inspector’s verdict for nearly three-quarters of Calgary’s popular food truck fleet, in the first 14 months since city hall gave gourmet grub wagons the official green light.

    Of the 35 trucks operating long enough to garner full health inspections, 26 of them have been written up for critical health violations — defined as food handling errors with the potential to make customers sick.

    According to environmental health inspection reports posted on the Alberta Health Services website, 26 of 35 food-truck operators in Calgary failed inspection, the majority due to water and temperature issues.

    AHS executive officer Sarah Nunn says problems with refrigeration and keeping food hot may seem like no big deal, but it creates a breeding ground for bacteria which causes food poisoning.

    “When we see critical violations, we want them corrected to protect the public,” said Nunn.

    “Temperature violations are a big deal because that’s the thing that can cause food-bourne illness — that’s why it’s written as a critical infraction.”

    As well as issues with water supply, heat lamps and fridges, there’s been a couple of public complaints requiring inspection, and a handful of grim discoveries by the professional food detectives.

    “Whole limes were stored in an old “raw meat” box,” reads one typical report. “Do not store other foods in previously contained meat boxes which reduces the likelihood of cross-contamination.”

    The inspections are publicized under the Alberta Public Health Act, and every restaurant or food vendor in the province is there — black marks and all — for potential customers to see.

    In the case of food trucks — which have multiplied since city council made it easier to open shop in August 2011 — even a critical health violation rate of 75% is only an issue if it persists.

    Nunn says the challenge that comes with running a restaurant on wheels is that many of the chefs learning on the go what works and what doesn’t — and so long as they solve the issue immediately, there’s little concern.

    “It’s a restaurant on wheels is all, and a lot of these critical violations are the same ones you’d find in a typical restaurant,” said Nunn.

    “Temperature violations are really serious to us, so we will focus on that. And what you’ll see on the reports is that a lot of the violations are corrected during the inspection.”

    Fortunately for Calgarians trained to salivate the minute they approach a parked truck with a generator running, the people operating the majority of Calgary’s trendy food trucks are skilled gourmets.

    Tasty doesn’t always mean safe, but a sign of professional kitchens is how quickly a potential problem is fixed — and squeaky clean follow-up inspections show most food truckers take customer health seriously.

    James Boettcher, who founded the YYCFoodTrucks collective, says that’s the key — and as far as he can tell, the foodies selling their wares via mobile kitchens are running very tight ships.

    “In terms of the standards we uphold it’s similar to a restaurant, but the challenge with a food truck is some of the amenities, like running water and electricity, aren’t as easy to come by,” said Boettcher.

    Rather than seeing the high rate of health violations as a negative, Boettcher says the strict reports help an industry that’s here to stay to get progressively better.

    “It’s a not a fad by any means — as a sustainable industry, with violations like these coming up, it forces everyone to be more accountable and better,” he said.

    “I don’t think all is lost when the health board makes us aware of how we need to improve.”

    Boettcher’s own truck, Fiasco, has maintained a spotless record since March, after being dinged for putting too much bleach in a cleaning solution.

    He says the key for Calgary’s new food truck fleet has been instantly dealing with health concerns, and if that’s not possible, temporarily getting the rig off the road.

    “Anytime there’s an issue it’s addressed right away, if possible. There was a truck during Stampede and their coolers were running high, so they shut themselves down,” said Boettcher.

    “The accountability in our industry is very high.”

    To visit Alberta Health Service’s restaurant inspection website, go to: http://www12.albertahealthservices.c...h-inspections/

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    Hopefully this isn't surprising to anyone.

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    Meh, there's only a handfull that are actually good.
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    ...
    Last edited by Sugarphreak; 07-11-2019 at 09:09 AM.

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    Originally posted by CapnCrunch
    Meh, there's only a handfull that are actually good.
    ding ding ding.. Yup lots of hype and lots of bad food. I had cat fur in my sandwich from Blam!wich ummm gross.

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    From their base, they getting rid of most of their stock probably within 2 hours anyway.
    In high school, we use to get Texas Doughnuts and Peters Burgers for cheap on Fridays, till the Health inspectors decided the food wasn't safe if transported the 6 blocks from where they were made.. No one ever got sick from the practice for years prior.
    The inspectors are needed, but I think their standards and expectations sometimes are way over the top.
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    Those Texas Doughnuts were awesome, kinda dumb that was the reason we couldn't have them anymore.

    My food truck experiences have all been good. Had the Soup in a Bun a few times and the grilled cheese one as well.
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    Originally posted by Sugarphreak


    Pretty much this, the whole "food truck" trend is going to be short lived anyway IMO.
    I don't think so. I'm guessing they are here to stay. Most major cities in the US have a vibrant food truck industry.

    As for the article, would be a surprise when you ate food off a truck and got sick? I'm guessing these "violations" are blown way out of proportion and there is no real threat here.
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    Um, storing limes in an old meat box is just gross. There have been some complaints the article said, I can definitely see why. I only ate at a food truck once and that was because someone else bought me a burger back from when they went down. I won't ever choose to eat at one. And for example, storing things in a fridge at 16, yes SIXTEEN degrees is not good for anything that's meant to be refigerated.

    http://www12.albertahealthservices.c...F-7DC007668B19
    Last edited by JustinMCS; 10-31-2012 at 08:15 AM.

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    Originally posted by Maxt
    The inspectors are needed, but I think their standards and expectations sometimes are way over the top.
    Having done some food safety courses, I'd dare say that most people's kitchens in their homes would not pass an inspection.

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    Meh, Calgary is actually ok for open air BBQs.

    Its not like Florida or Louisiana where its 40 celsius and so moist that if you leave a kleenex out - it will start to grow mold.

    Low temperature, low humidity, low oxygen (high elevation) means this is the one place on earth that probably naturally is the cleanest.
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    Originally posted by speedog

    Having done some food safety courses, I'd dare say that most people's kitchens in their homes would not pass an inspection.
    Most likely that is correct..
    My Wife is asian and the way she treats food, I wonder why we even have a refrigerator.
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    Yeah, I would bet money that there's not a single restaurant in Calgary that hasn't gotten a "critical" violation at least once.
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    Originally posted by CapnCrunch
    Meh, there's only a handfull that are actually good.


    Originally posted by Maxt
    From their base, they getting rid of most of their stock probably within 2 hours anyway.
    In high school, we use to get Texas Doughnuts and Peters Burgers for cheap on Fridays, till the Health inspectors decided the food wasn't safe if transported the 6 blocks from where they were made.. No one ever got sick from the practice for years prior.
    The inspectors are needed, but I think their standards and expectations sometimes are way over the top.

    Oh man, I miss Texas doughnuts. So big and derricious...


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    Originally posted by Sugarphreak


    Pretty much this, the whole "food truck" trend is going to be short lived anyway IMO.
    When in New York, I was super disappointed. The sheeple hype stuff cause they are retarded IMO

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    Originally posted by HiTempguy1


    When in New York, I was super disappointed. The sheeple hype stuff cause they are retarded IMO
    You can't bring New York into this!! Their street meat is amazing!!

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    Originally posted by Maxt
    [B]From their base, they getting rid of most of their stock probably within 2 hours anyway.
    In high school, we use to get Texas Doughnuts and Peters Burgers for cheap on Fridays, till the Health inspectors decided the food wasn't safe if transported the 6 blocks from where they were made.. No one ever got sick from the practice for years prior.
    I seriously doubt that was the reason. Prepared food can be moved to a new site. There's lots of guidelines around it. It ain't rocket science. They probably stopped because the supplier of your food wasn't making any money off of it.
    The inspectors are needed, but I think their standards and expectations sometimes are way over the top.
    Believe me, compared to other places in North America, the Alberta gov't is extremely forgiving in regards to food violations.

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    I love the idea of food trucks especially if they offer something weird and wacky. I'm definitely looking for something more than a hotdog stand if I'm going to a foodtruck (Costco hotdogs have got you beat). So far there's been some neat stuff here and there, but I can't see myself going for burgers and fries from these things. Some of the pricing from these guys are just completely [email protected]#$tarded for what you get. *ahem, I'm looking at you $9.50 grilled cheese sandwich.

    Street food to me is inherently "dirty". But since these trucks need permits to operate and presents themselves as a legitimate mobile restaurant business with matching prices, they deserve to get the smackdown if they're not playing by the rules.
    Someday we may need to activate the halo structure off Deerfoot and destroy the North East.

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    ^^^ Yeah some of these food trucks are truly "YYC Food Trucks".. Seems to fit the general theme of food in Calgary: "mediocre and pricey".

    Will wait for the day that a HK style food truck will show up: octopus and animal innards on a stick!!! Yeah baby!
    You have a couple of photos that are great... you must be very good at photoshop!

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    Originally posted by ga16i
    So far there's been some neat stuff here and there, but I can't see myself going for burgers and fries from these things. Some of the pricing from these guys are just completely [email protected]#$tarded for what you get. *ahem, I'm looking at you $9.50 grilled cheese sandwich.
    This right here. I usually bring my own food for lunch, but every once in a while I will go out and buy something, and food trucks are the last thing on my mind, when I can get a full container of food for like $7-8 bucks from Koryo for example, vs 3 perogies and a peice of sausage for $10 bucks. I remember passing by alley burger and saw their prices..for a price of 1 purger I can get 6 KEG patties + 6 buns and make my own much nicer burgers at home. The prices are over the top for the amount of food you get, and more often than not, the food isn't up to the hype

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