Health

Board Wants Plan to Put Grades on Food Trucks

County supervisors unanimously directed their environmental health department Tuesday to create a plan to grade food trucks the same way as restaurants, with popular “A,” “B” and “C” letter grade cards.

The Board of Supervisors directed environmental health staff to return within 120 days with a plan detailing what steps it would take to put the program in place, how long it would take and what it might cost.

The County already inspects food trucks up to twice a year to ensure they meet public health standards. It also teaches operators how to properly handle, prepare, serve and store food, and provides them with decals certifying that they have been permitted.

But the Board of Supervisors, led by Chairman Ron Roberts, said extending the food grade-card system that the County helped pioneer in the 1950s was a logical extension of inspections and would improve public service.

Roberts said letter grades help customers immediately size up how restaurants — and potentially, food trucks — fared during inspections to test food safety and cleanliness.

“You walk into a restaurant, as I did for breakfast this morning,” Roberts said, “and the first thing you see when you enter is a letter grade… (It’s) something that’s readily understandable. It communicates quickly.”

The County requires all restaurants to post their “A,” “B,” or “C” letter grades in their windows.

An “A” card means the restaurant scored between 90 points and a perfect 100 point-score and complies with all state health requirements. A “B” card reflects a score between 80 and 90 points and means the restaurant needs improvement. A “C” card represents a failing grade of 79 points or less.

Roberts said extending the use of grade cards to food trucks was especially important because the numbers of food trucks, including “gourmet” trucks that operate literally as restaurants on wheels, have increased dramatically.

Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox also applauded the idea.

“It just makes a lot of sense to me,” Jacob said, “since we have those grades that people can see in restaurants that we would be able to do the same thing with a food truck.”

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact