Policing food trucks a challenge for health inspectors

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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SEATTLE —

[Update: My Sweet Lil Cakes is open again and spoke to KIRO 7 about their new equipment.]

A failed health inspection by a popular food truck is raising concerns about how the King County Health Department is managing the booming food truck industry.

My Sweet Lil Cakes serves up waffle style cake pops on wheels. On June 15, the truck failed a routine inspection for not keeping their food cool and not having proper hand washing facilities. 

On Tuesday, the truck was scheduled to cater a fifth-grade graduation party.

“With food trucks, the things we want to pay closest attention to is looking at temperature control and refrigeration,” said Becky Elias of the King County Health Department, which regulates 440 food trucks.

Elias said the failed inspection by Lil Cakes highlights the challenges of regulating the growing mobile food business, and the struggle to make sure food trucks keep foods at the right temperatures.

“It adds a little bit of a complication,” she said, adding that health inspectors use the same social media tools the public uses to track food trucks and surprise them with inspections.

Shiro Hirei sells his Japanese style hot dogs near Second Avenue and Pike Street almost every day.  He believes food trucks keep it cleaner than most restaurants.

“It’s really safe and everything is fine,” he said.

However, Elias said the average food truck will fail an inspection just as often as a traditional restaurant.

One of the owners of My Sweet Lil Cakes declined to comment on this story.

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