How to Start a Food Truck for Beginners: Truck Inspections

Posted by Damian Roberti on

Alright, you guys so welcome to marketing food online. And in this video, I'm going to cover some food truck basics. If you are a beginner and you're getting ready to start a food truck, I'm going to cover some licenses and permits and some documentation that you may need in order for you to apply for your food truck, business license, and get that profitable business up and running. We're going to get to it right now.                                                                                                                                        

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All right. So welcome back. This is Damien from marketing foot online. As I mentioned in the introduction, I'm really excited about starting this series. It's actually going to be a handful of videos, dedicated to food truck beginners. If you're looking to start a food truck and you need some guidance, or maybe some understanding interpretation of what may be needed or necessary to get it up and running, we're going to do a handful of videos. This is going to be the first specifically for beginners. So if you are already a food truck operator, you may have already obviously experienced most of what I'm about to talk about with licenses and business permits and what else that you may need as far as the paperwork end of the food truck business. And like always, if this is your first video, welcome to marketing food online, we are YouTube premier food entrepreneur channel.



We bring you all kinds of fabulous videos on how to get your food business up and running, create a packaged food product or an extremely profitable food business. Whether that be from home or even online, you can sell locally through cottage food laws, of course, or you can be on Amazon Etsy or eBay and even create your own shop. You could use Shopify Weebly and all these other fantastic platforms to make your own website to sell food. And that is what we cover here. A marketing footnote line. So really quick. Now the one thing about licenses and permits now, every state, city and County across the United States has a variation of laws and regulations for food trucks. When it becomes get into the mobile food business, it is extremely challenging to try to understand what licenses who's inspecting me. What kind of department do I contact? Does your Food Business need a Short Term Loan?

Do I need a business license? Do I have to have even insurance? Do I have to have vehicle insurance for my truck? Do I have to have this license and that permit so it can be confusing. So I'm going to break down a handful of things that you may need to have in order to apply and give you some direction as to where to go to apply. And of course, even to go to ask questions, if you've got even more of them. So we're going to, like I said, we're going to have a series of videos here. That's going to get you up into a lot of those questions. I've been asked quite frequently on some of my other food truck videos. Um, so I wanted to do this and break it down for beginners. So now in your local area, there's a handful of levels of permits and licenses.

It starts with the state, it goes to the city and then it goes to the County, okay. Or even goes down to the County, to the city. There's no specific duress as far as one, two, three, or what's the most important. What's not, they're all actually equally important. Uh, but you definitely want to make sure you get the right ones from the right levels of, of, of the state and of course of the County. So typically your department of health will be the one to reach out, to, to get information that you would need the department of health, specifically in your city and County. Uh, those would be the first ones to reach out to, okay. The health department now, therefore, so you can, you can basically get started by looking up the local health department, either online, or you can even inquire, um, on, on, through the via phone, you can contact them via phone as what is necessary requirements for the County that you're in.

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Okay. Now the next thing up the state or the city will have a specific requirement. You have to understand that must be met, okay. Dependent upon your mode of operation. So the type of operation mobile business that you have specifically food trucks we're talking about, but there are kiosks, there are food carts. There are a handful of different types of mobile units that actually fall under this, this type of law. When it becomes to mobile food businesses, food trucks are being the one that we're talking about here, but all of these will basically fall under the health department, as far as the type of licensing and requirements where we would be needed. Now, with that being said, there are different types of requirements. Obviously, if you're a food truck or you have a food cart or a kiosk or something that's even mobile, any type of mobile food business will have a variation of different types of inspections.

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The frequency of those inspections, the types of licenses and permits, and even the level of insurance and all of that is going to vary. Based upon that mobile type of business. Now in your food truck, there are two types of basically foods that you could sell. Those that you're making on the actual food truck is in selling prepackaged foods. Why is unimportant Damien? Well, because you have to understand you're going to be considered a food handler. If you're going to be preparing food, that's bringing together multitudes of ingredients, cooking it, serving it. That's one. Now some food trucks, even food carts, kiosk, and such, they actually will prepay pre-buy food. That's already packaged. So you're not preparing anything. You won't be considered a food handler. You will simply be reselling food. It's very important distinction because of the fact that it is a different type of licenses and permits and et cetera, everything from the insurance into the way that you sell it, it's all going to be different.


So making a decision as to even for instance, ice cream trucks, when you see the guys scooping the ice cream, that's actually a food handler. Okay? And a lot of States and counties, they will view people who buy prepackaged ice cream, ice cream cones, ice cream treats, and such that you're not scooping. You're not actually touching. You're not doing any type of service in regards to the food, food scooping or food preparation. That's not going to be the same selling a prepackaged food product, like it, ice cream conferences. That's premade is not the same as scooping ice cream that is going to be served. Okay. So understand that. And that goes with any type of food that you're making, not necessarily ice cream, but anything that you're cooking is such that you're bringing together. There's a distinction. So, so typically, normally any type of food that you're going to be doing this with when you're actually preparing it, you're going to have different types of regulations that you will fall under.

Okay. All right. So right off the bat, the one thing you definitely need to know is your food truck will definitely need to be inspected. And health inspectors will check that prior to you even being allowed to drive off the lot and start selling your food. Now, the inspection process can be extremely tedious because you're going to be looked at, in essence, very similar to the level of inspection at a restaurant, because you were a food, prepare your food handler, and you're going to be making food on the actual truck itself. So everything from cleanliness to sanitation, to proper food, food storage, the right types of sinks, the right amount of sinks. This was something I ran into, by the way, I didn't have the food truck at the time. I actually was running my Italian bakery. And, uh, the USDA, the department of agriculture inspected us.

We had a three compartment sink, a hand washing sink and a mop sink. Those were three specific major things that had to be on the premises in order for the department of agriculture to even begin to come in and inspect us. So I had to have that installed by a professional plumber, of course. So a three compartment sink, which is a wash rinse and sanity [inaudible] sink. And then the hand sink, which is one used by you and your employees, believe it or not, you'll have one or two. Obviously you're going to have one or two people. Addition to the truck, aside from yourself, those employees we'll have to use specifically a designated hand washing sink, obviously not the mop sink, not the three compartment sink. Now, when it comes to the food truck, you've got a little bit different configuration of the equipment as compared to a restaurant, obviously because you're in a more confined space, but at the end of the day, you're going to need to meet those requirements to have the right types of sinks.

Keep that in mind. Cause it's crucially important aside from having the right equipment to cook on a heating or serving, uh, equipment, that's good to maintain the temperature of food or cook the food to a proper temperature, a storage or refrigeration of some kind that has ingredients or potentially prepackaged ingredients. So these are some of the things that you'd have to be aware of prior to having the health department do the inspection. Okay. So this is actually going to, I'm gonna step to the side here and we'll do a little bit of, of legal paperwork, things that would cover some topics about the legal aspects of having the food truck. What exactly are the inspections conduct an inspection? What do they want to verify? Okay. So you're going to need to make sure you've got a copy of the license for the service support facility and or recently the inspection report presented.

You're going to have the Depot or the commissary. Now, um, if you are utilizing a commissary, some counties will require you to have that down. That specific address for that specific commissary is going to be the one that is quote unquote, kind of attached to your truck. That's going to be, to be down as well. So what they're normally called in the food truck industry is a support facility and making sure that that meets the vendors unit operation needs. So as you are utilizing that specific location that is also, uh, conducive to an inspection as well. Okay. So any food purchase, record storage and record keeping, making sure you have the dates expiration or best buy dates on the ingredients that you're bringing onto the truck. This was the same scenario. Again, this is so funny because it runs parallel to what I had with our bakery.

Any ingredient I brought in had to be marked a day that it was brought in and purchased, and that it's actually believe it or not. There's actually labels that we had to put on each one of these packages of everything. Um, and then the best by date. So if I were to get, uh, let's say some breadcrumbs and I got that into the truck, I would have to Mark the day we received it and the best buy date that the manufacturer has on the package. So when you get an inspection, you're going to end up having that inspector, look at those dates and make sure that they are obviously within the timeframe of using the product. If it's expired, you potentially could get marked for that. Okay. And normally when this happens, it's not necessarily a negative thing, run off the bat. If you get inspected and you have a few things, they're going to give you the list and say, look, we need you to address this.

You need to make sure that these products are marked correctly. Make sure this sanitizing sink is correct. Make sure you have the right amount of this, that whatever it is. And they're going to say, next time I come back, this needs to be an a plus condition or a plus shape, or it needs to be followed to a T. Okay. So keep that in mind as well. Also from the legal paper standpoint, you also need to show proof of ownership of the vehicle that you've got. Obviously your truck, very similar to having a car vehicle. If you get pulled over and they asked you for your license and proof of registration and insurance, same scenario, you need to show your license and also proper identification that you own the vehicle. Um, and that those are really kind of no brainers and very simple things. But again, if you're beginning a food truck business, these are things that you need to be aware of and be aware of the type of paperwork you need to possibly show.

When it comes down to doing that. Now, how frequent do you do food trucks get inspected, Damien? Well, normally it's okay. Sometimes it can be random. I can tell you that the department of agriculture for us was designated every six months. We were actually given our inspections every six month interval. So twice a year we were being inspected. It depends. They can sometimes just randomly show up to some counties will allow the department of agriculture or the health department. I mean, to come in and do that for you. Um, but it's normally an annual thing and they'll kind of give you a heads up ahead of time, unless it is a random inspection. They'll say, look, Hey, Damien, we're going to be here on February 10th, make sure you're all set. We're going to check X, Y, and Z. We got to come in and do our inspection.


So that gives you some time also to prep and make sure that everything is clean and place labeled and properly marked as it should be, but be aware it could be a random stop in and they could do that type of inspection as well. Okay. So the other thing is where your food truck is parked. Believe it or not, most counties or cities will require you to have it parked at a designated commissary kitchen. You can't necessarily bring this home and park it in your driveway at your house. Okay? So, but when that happens, you need to be aware that they could potentially even inspect the facility where it's for cleanliness or sanitation or where it's parked specifically, making sure that there's not trash dumpsters or any type of waste or food waste. And if anything of that sort around your facility or your actual truck itself.

So it's not necessarily just the truck that will need to be inspected, but potentially you could be getting to the facility where you park it in. So you want to make sure that you stay on top of that as well. Alright, so a couple of really quick side notes to make your food truck a success. Number one, make sure that you have a specific cleaning process, a plan to clean out your truck. After every single time you take it out to do business. What do I mean by that specifically? Well, if you have a team of people, everyone needs to be trained and need to be on the same page, specifically with your truck, with your equipment and what you expect them to do. As far as cleaning and sanitizing the truck, make sure you do this for multitude of reasons, but number one at the end of the day, your feeding people food.

If you've got a food truck that's not up to standards and it's not clean or sanitary, people can get sick. You obviously don't want word of mouth spreading that your food truck is making people sick because your food truck is, this will be coming to a dead stop. Okay. Make sure that everyone knows what is expected in your, the food truck owner, your, the head of the food truck. Your team is a reflection of you. Your team is a reflection of what you expect your truck to be going forward. When I had my team and staff working for me at my Italian bakery, my wife and I had a, literally a mapped out set of checklist of what was expected and how to do it for you literally showed them. Okay? So you need to let them know how it's what's to be done. And at what level you expect, when you, you can lay out clear crystal clear guidelines for your staff, your success as a food truck operator only increases.

Obviously there's a lot of, of, of additional dynamics to running a successful food truck. There's a lot of other things that come into play that can make it either successful or not. And that's a whole bunch of other videos which I'll get into later. But as of right now, those are a handful of things that you could expect as far as inspections, some of the types of paperwork, permits and licensing and who you can contact to find out, okay, the food truck business is really different than a brick and mortar stand alone. Stand still restaurant. When you begin to travel outside your County, or even your city, in some cases, you need to actually have an operating permit in that city or County. These are things that you need to check. It's not like that everywhere. Some places, it is some places it's not. Um, so only of it being too vague, it is a, it's an issue of each County and city want to make sure that if you're crossing the line, coming into another County or city to do business at a fair or festival or whatever it may be, um, that you have the right paperwork and you're legally allowed to sell food.

That way that's obviously different than having a restaurant restaurants. Don't move, obviously they're stationary. So once you have your operation set up in a city or County, then you've got your licenses in that city or County plain and simple. When it's mobile, it's a totally different ball game. But to tell you the truth, you can truly make it extremely successful. And even in the midst of what's going on today, uh, fruit trucks are beginning to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel because there's a lot of need for food trucks because of what's going on, not as a, as a, as an effect of what's going on. So if that was helpful, you've got questions about your food truck. Let me know down below. And of course, as always, we'll hop on those questions as soon as I can. And of course, check out our blog. We've got some fantastic information, free information, actually on our website, marketing food, And we'll see you guys on the next video. Thanks for watching marketing food online. And if you are looking to create your own food truck, start a home based food business. Under the cottage food law franchise, a food operation start a packaged food business, private label, your own food product, sell on Amazon, get your own online store or sell food online. Remember to subscribe and check out these videos.


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