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Food trucks need to pay more attention to sanitation

Geralda Figueroa, a Boston health inspector, told Kim Crocker and Robert MacClean how to avoid violations.David L Ryan/Globe staff/file

The food trucks that now spice up Boston’s streets were born in the spirit of breaking the rules — but everything has to have limits. Over the last few years, dozens of the trucks have started selling everything from hot dogs to cupcakes, experimenting with their menus and locations on the fly and rejecting the more staid style of most sit-down restaurants.

That spirit, however, should not extend to food safety. Recent revelations that 41 percent of the city’s food trucks have been cited for health code infractions over the last two years should be a wakeup call for the nascent industry to take safety more seriously before the violations damage their reputation.


According to city inspectors, over the last two years there have been nine violations in food trucks that were severe enough to merit temporary closures. Overall, inspectors uncovered problems at a far higher rate than at the city’s brick-and-mortar restaurants. Offenders included some of the most popular food trucks in the city, like Clover and Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese; one of the most common problems was failure of the trucks to provide for adequate handwashing for staff. A recent salmonella outbreak spread by Clover trucks and restaurants sickened 27 people.

At least some of the problems seem to reflect inexperience. Food truck operators are bristling under the scrutiny. They should instead be scrubbing their counters. Hopefully, they will emerge stronger and safer for the attention.