Failing to display licenses, campus food trucks violate D.C. code

More than a half dozen food trucks that frequented campus last week failed to post their health code licenses, putting them in violation of D.C. regulations.

Tokyo in the City, House of Falafel, Yumpling, Yellow Vendor, Village Cafe Express, Surfside and DC Latino failed to meet the city’s requirements to publicly post their credentials, and most could not produce the documents when asked by a Hatchet reporter.

The dining scene on campus and around D.C. has been transformed over the last few years with the arrival and growth of the food truck industry – bringing up to 10 trucks to the center of campus each day that have to keep up with strict health regulations.

But food trucks must display their health certificates, food handling license and mobile vending licenses at all times, said Bronya Crawford, a mobile vending specialist at the D.C. Department of Health. Trucks that fail to have the documents, which must be renewed regularly, on hand face suspension.

India Flavor, Delicious American Food, CapMac, Tasty Kabob and Tasty Fried did have their papers in order. Matt Dang, the manager of Tasty Kabob, said the certificates show customers which operators are “legitimate.”

“There are a lot of rogue trucks out there that sometimes won’t post their vendor license,” Dang said. “It’s important that we follow all the rules. That way, people don’t get sick.”

Trucks have to meet the same health and safety requirements as brick-and-mortar restaurants, according to the D.C. Food Truck Association. They must fit sinks, a refrigerator, running hot water and fire suppression equipment within a space no longer than 18 feet and five inches.

Surfside, a seafood truck run by the same company as Jetties, had none of the required materials posted. The employees in the truck, who said they were recently hired, declined to comment.

Naceur Negra, who runs House of Falafel, said he “forgot to post” his truck’s health certificate, but he did produce it from behind the counter. When asked about his food handling license, he showed a photo identification card of a woman who was not working on the truck that day.

Operators must renew their health certificates every six months, and their food handling and mobile vending licenses annually. In addition, the Department of Health inspects mobile vendors at least twice a year.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.