Operation Chuck Wagon: Permitting Unlicensed Mobile Food Vendors

Summary

Impact Statement: 
This northern Kentucky health department wanted to increase the percentage of properly licensed mobile food vendors to correct unsafe food handling and prevent foodborne illness related to mobile food vendors such as food trucks. With the large light-industry and numerous warehouses located throughout the district, many employees frequently have quick meals from these mobile vendors. The QI project increased the percentage of properly licensed mobile food vendors to 100% from a baseline of 25% and also achieved a 100% compliance rate with required temperature controls, which had been a big problem during initial inspections.
Summary: 

The Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department (NKIDHD) serves the counties of Boone, Kenton, Campbell, and Grant. With a large light-industry base, warehouse facilities are located throughout the district. Mobile food vendors frequent such locations; employees need a quick meal while minimizing travel time. Unscrupulous mobile food vendors circumvent the permitting processes in hopes of operating undetected. These unlicensed mobile food vendors may lack the appropriate structural requirements, may not follow proper food safety practices and techniques, and may not obtain food products from approved sources, thereby increasing the risk of food-borne illnesses to the general public. Identified by NKIDHD’s environmental health inspectors using an affinity diagram, this quality improvement (QI) project was selected based upon the need for improvement, impact on the public’s health, and the increased interest in mobile food vending. The QI process helped NKIDHD fully analyze this issue and unearth root causes to address, identify workable and sustainable solutions in collaboration with local businesses and mobile food vendors, and establish improved communication channels with mobile food vendors. Success was measured by having all mobile food vendors meet the requirements of Kentucky’s Retail Food Code and be properly licensed and inspected by NKIDHD.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department
Citation: 

Talley, T. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Operation Chuck Wagon: Permitting Unlicensed Mobile Food Vendors. Mon, 03/25/2013 - 19:04. Available at https://www.phqix.org/content/operation-chuck-wagon-permitting-unlicensed-mobile-food-vendors. Accessed May 26, 2018.

Submission Status: 
Completed
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Comments

Submitted by sbegley on

How do you keep track of all the moble vendors in the area. Do they have to register some where before they can operate in the public?

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Submitted by tedtalleynkyhealth on

Yes, mobile vendors are required to be inspected and obtain a permit through our office prior to operating. Additionally, vendors tend to frequent the same locations or operate in the same general area, and the assigned inspector(s) now recognize those who are legitimate.

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Submitted by geopops on

Being close to the state of Ohio and several bridges, do you find Ohio vendors driving into your area, and if so, how do you enforce/check on them?

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Submitted by tedtalleynkyhealth on

This is briefly described in the QI Implementation section. Yes, our close proximity to Ohio and Indiana certainly added an additional layer as it's very easy for out-of-state vendors to cross state lines, operate for the day, and return to their home state without our knowledge. Since implementing the initiative, we have not experienced any disproportionate challenges with such vendors. That said, we remain vigilant.

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cgizzi's picture
Submitted by cgizzi on

This submission is very informational. The topic is so timely with the ever-increasing popularity of food trucks festivals, mobile food carts and food truck tracking apps for smart phones. Our local health department has certainly been looking for creative and effective ways to continue permitting mobile food vendors and ensuring food safety. Thanks for your submission!

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