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How to Keep Your Food Truck Clean: Sanitation Recommendations for Owners

Maintaining the cleanliness and sanitation of your food truck is critical for the success of your business. Cooking meat, poultry, and seafood, frying, and preparing greasy, fatty foods can lead to extensive contamination. Over time, grease can accumulate on every surface, saturating your truck with odors that are difficult to remove and bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, clostridium perfringens, and E. coli that can cause a foodborne illness and a hefty legal battle.

In this blog post, we combine our extensive experience in the food truck industry with expert recommendations from RAMPro, a leading commercial kitchens and food truck cleaning company. We delve into practical tips and best practices for keeping your mobile kitchen spotless, addressing crucial aspects such as pricing and timeline considerations. Whether you're an owner managing operations or relying on a dedicated team, these insights will help ensure your food truck meets the highest sanitation standards.

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Two Types of Surfaces in Food Trucks: Keeping Both Clean and Safe

When it comes to keeping your food truck clean, it's essential to pay close attention to both food contact and non-food contact surfaces and equipment. Food contact surfaces, such as countertops, cutting boards, utensils, food trays, and cooking equipment, directly interact with ingredients and cooked food. These surfaces and appliances are prone to harboring bacteria and cross-contamination if not properly sanitized after each use. To maintain cleanliness, establish a strict routine of cleaning and sanitizing these surfaces before, during, and after food preparation. Use hot, soapy water to wash these surfaces thoroughly, followed by a food-safe sanitizer to kill any lingering bacteria. Additionally, consider implementing color-coded cutting boards and utensils to prevent cross-contamination between different types of food.

On the other hand, non-food contact surfaces, including walls, floors, exhaust vents, sinks, shelves, fire suppression systems, and storage areas, may not directly touch food but play a significant role in maintaining overall cleanliness and food safety in your food truck. Grease, spills, and food debris can accumulate on these surfaces over time, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and pests. Regularly clean and sanitize non-food contact surfaces using appropriate cleaning agents and disinfectants. Pay special attention to areas around cooking equipment and food preparation areas where grease and moisture tend to accumulate. Implementing a daily cleaning checklist for your staff can help ensure that all non-food contact surfaces are regularly inspected and cleaned, minimizing the risk of contamination and maintaining a clean and inviting environment for both customers and employees. 

While food contact surfaces and equipment understandably receive greater attention due to their direct interaction with ingredients and cooked food, non-food contact surfaces and equipment often fall by the wayside. This neglect can be attributed to various factors, including busy staff schedules, fatigue, and time constraints. Indeed, the thorough cleaning of non-food contact surfaces can be a time-consuming task, potentially requiring an entire shift to complete. However, overlooking the cleanliness of non-food contact surfaces is a risky oversight. Neglecting them can lead to the accumulation of grease, spills, and food debris, creating a breeding ground for bacteria, pests, and heavy odor.

In light of these challenges, we recognize the necessity of deep cleaning services performed by professionals. While daily cleaning routines are essential for maintaining surface cleanliness, a comprehensive deep cleaning service ensures that all areas of your food truck receive the attention they deserve. To shed more light on this topic, we sat down with Rubullah Mahdee, owner of RAMPro cleaning janitorial company, to gain further insights. Here's what we learned from our conversation:

Expert Insights: Food Truck Cleaning Q&A

Q: Can you explain the process of performing a deep cleaning?

A: Our deep cleaning process involves using chemical degreasers, steam pressure washers, and specialized appliance burners to thoroughly clean and polish stainless steel appliances and surfaces. Our trained technicians, working in pairs, arrive at your food truck's location equipped with all necessary supplies. We require water access and a 110V power supply to operate our equipment effectively.

Q: How often do you recommend a professional food truck cleaning service you provide?

A: We highly recommend scheduling a professional deep cleaning for your food truck at least once a year. This comprehensive service involves disinfecting all surfaces, including equipment, refrigeration units, racks, and more, to ensure optimal sanitation and safety standards are met.

Q: How long does it take to clean a 20-foot food truck that has been operating for several years without professional cleaning?

A: For a food truck that has not undergone professional cleaning previously, the process can take up to 8 hours to complete. Our team meticulously removes appliances to clean behind and underneath areas, targeting hard-to-reach spots for thorough sanitation.

Q: How long does cleaning a 20-foot food truck that receives monthly professional cleaning from your service take?

A: With our monthly professional cleaning service, the cleaning process typically takes around two hours to complete. This regular maintenance ensures that your food truck remains in top condition, minimizing the buildup of grime and bacteria.

Q: How much does it cost to clean a food truck that has been operating for several years without professional cleaning?

A: The cost of cleaning a food truck that has yet to undergo professional cleaning previously can range between $1300 and $2000. This cost encompasses both interior and exterior cleaning, as well as servicing the exhaust system to ensure thorough sanitation.

Q: How much does it cost to clean a food truck that receives monthly professional cleaning from your service?

A: For food trucks enrolled in our monthly professional cleaning program, the cost typically ranges from $300 to $500 per service. This investment ensures consistent cleanliness and hygiene standards are maintained, reducing the risk of contamination.

Q: What are your overall recommendations for cleaning and odor elimination in food trucks?

A: Regular and thorough cleaning is paramount for maintaining a sanitary food truck environment. Treat your food truck kitchen with the same level of cleanliness as you would your home kitchen, cleaning daily after meals. For deeper cleaning needs, consider enlisting professional services to tackle the heavy lifting. Proper cleaning is also essential for odor elimination. However, if residual odors persist, there are air freshener options available that are safe for use in food production environments, effectively neutralizing unpleasant smells.

Final Thoughts: Ensuring the Cleanliness and Success of Your Food Truck

Maintaining a clean and sanitary food truck is crucial for the success and longevity of your business. By understanding the importance of regular cleaning for both food contact and non-food contact surfaces, you can significantly reduce the risk of contamination and create a safe environment for your customers and staff. Implementing daily cleaning routines and periodic professional deep cleanings will help keep your food truck in pristine condition, ensuring it meets health standards and remains free from harmful bacteria and odors.

Professional cleaning service can be an invaluable asset, offering thorough sanitation that goes beyond daily cleaning efforts. Regularly investing in these services not only maintains the aesthetic appeal of your food truck but also safeguards against potential health risks and legal issues. By following the expert recommendations and best practices outlined in this post, you can ensure that your mobile kitchen operates at the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene, ultimately contributing to the success of your food truck business.

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