Licenses keep lunch trucks clean

Philadelphia requires truck owners to adhere to strict health codes.

For complete coverage of the 2008 Lunchies, click here.

The food trucks on Temple’s campus have been a fixture for many years. On Main Campus, students and professors are seen buying wraps, cheese-steaks or fries for a quick fix before rushing to their next class.

Lunch trucks are a part of students’ experiences at the university, and truck owners work hard to maintain their businesses.

According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the guidelines for mobile food vendors regulate the size of trucks, as well as the food preparation surfaces.

Many students have their favorite trucks to go to for meals.

“I always have cheesesteaks,” said Farhiya Tifow, a sophomore political science major.

Tifow said her favorite truck is Ernie’s.

“I prefer the trucks better than the [Student Center] because [they] are cheaper,” she added.
Sophomore psychology major Joseph O’Haire agrees with Tifow that trucks are less expensive.
“I have a meal plan at the [Student Center], but when I do use the food trucks, I use the Green Truck,” O’Haire said.

Temple does not assume the responsibility of monitoring the trucks.

“The codes for the trucks is not something the university gets involved in because all of them are on the streets of Philadelphia,” said Richard Rumer, the university’s vice president for business services.

“They are required by law to go to the Department of Licenses and Inspections to get a license to be a food vendor in the city of Philadelphia. Once they have that, they are then licensed to vend food service within the city,” Rumer said.

The city has numerous requirements for food trucks to be considered safe. Issued by the Office of Food Protection, the Mobile Food Vending Unit-Plan Submission Guide requires vendors to maintain controlled temperatures for food storage, clean water supply, and safely dispose waste. These codes are a part of the 13-page document that determines whether a food establishment passes inspections.

According to the Food Establishment Self-Inspection Checklist from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, owners have to self-inspect their trucks for rodent infestation, food contamination and maintain sanitary utensils and cooking equipment. Owners also have to monitor employee hygiene, such as the washing of hands.

Fortunately for the students, faculty and administration at the university, there have been no critical code violations for the last two years among the food trucks on campus, according to a report released from Environmental Health Services.

Some students are aware of the risks, but say their favorite trucks are ones they trust the most.
“It’s like a game of Russian Roulette,” O’Haire said. “You take risks.”

Anthony Myers can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. It is never good to take risks with your food and it is tough to consider any food trucks as safe.

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