Food trucks fuel health concerns among lawmakers

With cheap, quick, meal options, more food trucks are being seen on local streets. But consumers dining at these mobile restaurants are doing so at their own risk, according to Roydell Carter, director of the Department of Environment Health.

“They haven’t been to any food handlers training so there are a number of risks involved with that. In fact, the public consuming from those vehicles that are not registered are really doing so at their own risk,” said Mr. Carter.

The Department of Environmental Health requires all employees who handle cooked meats and poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, rice, pasta and cereal-based foods to obtain a Basic Food Hygiene Certification.

Basic food hygiene courses provide food handlers with information on food hygiene topics and teaches food handlers about the causes of food-borne illness and food spoilage.

East End MLA Arden McLean asked if it was possible for the food trucks to hit the roads without Mr. Carter’s approval.

Mr. Carter acknowledged that there were vehicles from which food was served that were “operating illegally.”
“I don’t know where they are preparing the food, I don’t know the particular risks they are exposed to, and they are not in our program,” he added.

Health Minister Osbourne Bodden pointed out, “In all honesty, we have to put things in place to make sure that these people are regulated and, if they are not regulated, they should be shut down.”

Mr. McLean said the risk posed to consumers was “facilitated by government.”

“There has been a proliferation of these trucks in recent times. Now, can we get a commitment about what we’re going to do about it? …. Is this department going to enforce the law and going to shut them down?,” he said.

Minister Bodden responded: “Now, we obviously have a lot of violators out there but I don’t think there’s that many that we can’t screen them,” and he encouraged members of the public to notify the Department of Environmental Health if they knew of any vendors violating regulations.

Mr. Bodden also said that the food truck issue was just “another aspect” of the growing problem of unlicensed mobile vendors.

“We have just been too lax with this, when you go around and you see on a Saturday in town clothes sales, in our national parks, and everything else … We have to stop it,” Mr. Bodden said. “We have to get back on track and bring back the order in the society we used to know.”

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