MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — You can find a little bit of everything out on the open road these days.
“We have hot dogs, polish sausage, fish, shrimp, chicken wings, chicken tenders every day,” food truck operator Rev. Albert Johnson told us.
“I do events on the weekend, but I’ve been down here about a year and a half now,” said Crystal Hawkins, another owner.
Here is on a corner at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile where at least three food trucks are located for lunch during the week. And business is good.
“It’s picking up very good, yes,” Hawkins said.
“I like chicken tenders and the barbecue sauce is really good,” said customer Hayden Waters.
Jimmy Mills added, “I try to catch it every time we can.”
Most customers seem to love the convenience and variety. But keeping one of these trucks going is not easy. They are subject to the same health inspection process as their brick and mortar counterparts, and they get a score, too.
Brad Philips is the District Manager of Inspection Services for the Mobile County Health Department. He says when food trucks are inspected, they are essentially inspected twice.
“They have to operate out of a brick and mortar establishment that is their base of operations, so we’ll go out there that encompasses that brick and mortar and the food truck itself,” Philips said.
And inspectors will look for the same things in the trucks as in their commissary.
“How they’re handling the food, are there cross-contamination potential, are they maintaining the right temperature, are they cooking it to the right temperature—it’s the same thing as for a restaurant,” said Philips.
“Normally they look for grease, mildew, cleanliness of the floor,” Albert Johnson added.
With few exceptions, the scores tend to be high, but maintaining the truck itself is a little easier.
“Well, it’s smaller and it’s easier to contain, you know, and I’ve got to clean it every day to keep it up,” said Hawkins.
The three trucks at Brookley all have scored in the 90’s–96, 97, 98.
We looked at the scores of the food trucks operating along the Gulf Coast. Most had similar numbers. The lowest score we found was 92. All places serving food, including school cafeterias, bars, grocery stores, gas stations, and food trucks pass the inspection with an 85. Scores below that require a follow-up visit from inspectors. And their scores have to be posted where customers can see them.
Customer Jimmy Mills said, “I believe most of these people are trying to make a living and the last thing they’re going to do is cut their own throat,”