San Diego food trucks will receive letter grades from county inspectors starting this month.
Local food truck Chubby’s and the Maui Wowi food cart received the first letter grades from the environmental health department on Tuesday morning.
“It’s a historic day for the food industry,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “And it's a very good day for the customers.”
Last year, Roberts helped pass the ordinance requiring letter grades for mobile prepared food facilities. He said with the new grades, the county has managed to tailor the system to the uniqueness of mobile businesses.
Food trucks have always been subject to inspection – but the former process used to be pass/fail instead of the grading program.
Chicho Casillas of Chubby’s food truck said inspectors used to drop by sometimes up to once a month to check the mobile kitchens. Now, the eateries will receive the same treatment as restaurants with a food safety expert arriving unannounced once to three times a year.
It will take about two months for all 500+ mobile vendors in the county to receive their inspection complete with letter decals displaying the A, B or C grade, according to Supervising Environmental Health Specialist Heather Buonomo.
The food truck placards will also feature a QR code that people can scan on their phones. The code will demonstrate when the last inspection occurred and what points were docked.
This is a new feature for the grading program in San Diego, and could soon be seen on restaurant signs as well.
Casillas said he’s happy his truck Chubby’s was the first to receive the first A because it demonstrates their compliance with health and safety regulations.
"It shows customers that we are committed to serving great food,” he said.
The letter grades are on a point system, with 90-100 points earning the top score. Any vendor earning less than 79 points will not be allowed to operate.
"What we'd like is to see everyone with A’s,” said Roberts.
Casillas agreed, saying visible grades that it will also make people feel more comfortable eating at food carts.
“If you'd see a C I'd be concerned though," Casillas said. "I'd keep walking."