Health Department giving letter grades to food trucks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local food trucks will start having to make the grade to operate. Some food truck operators say they're happy about the letter grade system and what it means for the public.

Ramiro Gandara, owner of Ramiro's Cantina, tells WDRB News about his new food truck. He says, "It's brand new. We've been out for a week, so we're doing food we do at the restaurant: burritos, tacos, taco salads."

Starting Monday, all Louisville food trucks could get a surprise health department inspection to be graded like free-standing restaurants. Each food truck in Jefferson County will be required to display a sign showing the results. The health department will give them an "A," "B," or "C," depending on their inspection. An "A" is a rating between 85 and 100.

Matt Rhodes, the Deputy Director of the Department for Public Health and Wellness says, "The 'B' placard represents a facility that is under administrative review, meaning they've had some historical issues in regards to inspection, have had two successive failing inspections or a closure due to imminent health concerns."

Those food trucks will be required to give the health department their locations for the next 10 days, so inspectors can locate the truck for follow-ups.

Gandara says, "It makes it safer for the consumer with the letter grades. It keeps every vendor on their toes, makes sure they do the right thing, the temperatures, the cleanliness and of course, all the equipment that comes with it."

Like stationary restaurants, food trucks will be required to have a certified food manager on duty and are also required to post a Board of Health-issued certification.

For food truck operators who currently own restaurants or have restaurant experience, they say the regulations are nothing new.

Keith Bush Jr., the Boss Hogs BBQ Owner says, "We should be following the same requirements as restaurants because you want people to be aware of how clean you are...and even the letter grades will set some food trucks apart from those who are not as clean as they should be."

Gandara says, "Same as a restaurant, we have temperature controls. We have to have gloves, separation of meats, vegetables."

Vendors received a notification that the letter grades are coming. The health department says food truck owners have been pushing for the grades, and they worked together to implement the program.

Leah Stewart, the President of the Louisville Food Truck Association says, the Association "fully supports the letter placard system, as it simply publicly verifies the high standards that our food trucks regularly maintain. We take sanitation and food safety very seriously and welcome this improvement in the Health Department's credentialing process."

Since the Health Department still has to make its rounds to the different food trucks, it may be several weeks before you see the letter grades posted.

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