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Arapahoe County Public Health to conduct over 200 food truck inspections in Colorado during warmer months

Colorado health inspectors to conduct over 200 food truck inspections
Colorado health inspectors to conduct over 200 food truck inspections 01:38

It's finally warm enough in Colorado to enjoy a bite to eat outside, perhaps from a local food truck. These warmer months are also the busiest time of year for food truck operators and customers. But what goes into making sure these mobile units are serving safe food?

Michael Roy is an environmental health specialist with Arapahoe County Public Health. He said in Arapahoe County, about 260 food trucks are operating and all of them go through two different kinds of inspections every year.

The first inspection is a license renewal inspection. It's when owners and operators take their food trucks to the County Health Department to pass an inspection. Health specialists are looking for things like a clean unit, and working plumbing, refrigeration and equipment.

"This also gives the operator an opportunity to clean the mobile and give them that second check to make sure everything is working and then bring it down to us," Roy said.

Michael Roy, an environmental health specialist with Arapahoe County Public Health, inspects the refrigerator temperature in a food truck to ensure food safety. CBS

Then at a later date, health specialists will go out into the community and visit the same food truck for an operational inspection to ensure trucks are properly set up and serving food.

"We want the consumers to feel confident that they can go to a mobile food truck in Arapahoe County and get safe food. The other thing that we really want to stress is that we're really working with operators to make sure they really understand all the regulations and why they're important," Roy said.

Health specialists also talk to operators about how they operate inside the mobile unit and about risk factors for food safety. Health specialists also give owners guidance on how to operate more efficiently.

Inspections take anywhere from an hour to three hours. Some of the most common violations are trucks operating without water, improper handwashing, and food not being hot or cold enough. Many of these issues can and will be corrected on-site.

Susan Mejia is a business owner who also helps food truck owners get their licenses and registrations. She said there are a few common mistakes owners make when it comes to starting a business.

"One of the things is commercial equipment. A lot of people want to save money on the equipment, and it's very important they buy commercial equipment because it is not the same as regular equipment. Another common mistake is that a water heater is very important, and it's important that it's efficient," said Mejia.

Mejia also helps operators fill out the necessary paperwork, take photos and get measurements of everything in the food truck to ensure it can become licensed. She said this step could take up to three hours.

So far this year, about 50 inspections have been done in the field in Arapahoe County.

When a food truck owner gets a license in Arapahoe County, they can operate a food truck in the state of Colorado, except the city and county of Denver, and vice versa; any operator who receives a license in Denver, can only operate in the Denver, but not the rest of the state.

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