Writer: Food safety about food, not ‘food trucks’

As an avid reader of your publication I was very pleased to read your recent article, “Food trucks fuel health concerns among lawmakers,” on June 17 written by Samantha Bonham.

[Department of Environmental Health Director Roydell Carter] has raised several important points in terms of compliance to the benefit of public safety and the overall reputation of the growing “food truck” industry in the Cayman Islands. After reading the article, I regret that there are not more individuals in the industry that share the importance of following the regulations that protect the public, and work with the guidelines to professionally trade.

Being new to the industry, after approximately five months of operating The Rolling Stove, my husband Mark and I can fully appreciate the need for all individuals in this trade to follow all regulations – not only for the safety of the public but also for the reputation of this growing industry in the Cayman Islands, which we truly believe holds much opportunity. That is why it disappointed me to read the title of the article, which limits Mr. Carter’s and [Health Minister Osbourne Bodden’s] concerns to solely “food trucks,” when their concerns seem to lie with a potential variety of roadside/streetcar vendor food establishments. When we first thought of the business idea of opening a “mobile restaurant” to offer Cayman affordable yet quality meal options, there had been little guidelines in place. Thankfully, with the help and direction of the appropriate parties from the Department of Environmental Health and Trade and Business Licensing Unit, we were professionally guided in the right direction in order to open a legally operating business. These guidelines are not impossible by any means, and ensure the safety of the consumer as any restaurant, supermarket or food premises should adhere to.

The food handling course is provided by the Department of Environmental Health and is extremely well presented and straightforward. It does not take much time and carefully details significant information that any food handler should be aware of. In order for us to successfully pass our health inspection, this was an absolute requirement. To receive our Trade and Business License as a “food truck,” we needed to treat the requirements with the same importance as any well-established restaurant in Cayman, and successfully pass all inspections. We have also sourced an excellent public liability insurance plan, which not only protects our business, but also the consumer. This is extremely important at our public locations and also private functions.

As one can imagine, running any business can be costly – those of us in this industry who do meet the regulations can appreciate this. However (and I hope that I may speak on behalf of the others) it is not only a requirement to trade, but also a responsibility to the public. I truly hope that more entrepreneurs in this growing industry will make the necessary changes to work with the system, and protect the reputation of the “food truck” concept which has positively grown so much in the United States, Canada and Europe. I am more than happy to assist and work with anyone going through the process!

We are extremely proud to be a part of this exciting industry. We have worked very hard over the past five months to build a positive reputation for “food trucks” in Cayman, and to encourage the public. We are grateful for the the very well-written previously published articles by Lindsay Turnbull and Victoria Wheaton encouraging the public to try, specifically, A La Kebab and The Rolling Stove – two well-known “food trucks” in Cayman. I believe that with the assistance of the government and health departments as a group we can collaboratively build on this opportunity, whilst continuing to provide the public with safe and high quality meal options.

On behalf of those of us who professionally and legally trade in this industry, we thank you for bringing to light the importance of this topic and kindly ask for a follow up to the article detailing those of us in the industry who are proactively working with the systems in the greater benefit for the public.