'Same rules apply:' Restaurant grade placards should be in all Milwaukee food trucks by end of 2019

MILWAUKEE -- How often do health officials inspect food trucks, and what are the requirements? During food truck season in Milwaukee, Contact 6's Jenna Sachs went to find out.

On 11 a.m. on a summer Tuesday in Milwaukee, 10 food trucks lined Cherry Street, offering burgers and fried, gyros, and smoked chicken to the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workers in Schlitz Park.

"It's one of the most popular parks, stations for the food trucks," said Oscar Castaneda with Oscars on a Roll.

Oscars on a Roll is the summertime extension of Castaneda's restaurants.

"Homemade fries, local bakery, fresh meat," said Castaneda.

On display was the food truck's rating with the Milwaukee Health Department.

"I want to be the 'A' in the window, so people can say, "I'll go to Oscar's,'" said Castaneda.

By the end of 2019, all food trucks should have a grade on display. Food trucks are inspected two times annually, at a minimum. Inspections happen more frequently if they're operating at a festival. A city inspector like Patrick Doornek swings by.

"If we haven't been there in the last 60 days, then we're most likely going to do an inspection," said Doornek.

In Milwaukee, food trucks have the same food safety requirements as brick and mortar restaurants.

Patrick Doornek

"If they have any violations, we're going to come back as many times as we need to," said Doornek.

The violation checklist includes no food prepared from home, no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food, and no violating temperature requirements for hot and cold foods.

"It can be harder, for sure, when you get into a truck in the summer when it's 120 degrees maybe. It can be harder, but the same rules are gonna apply," said Doornek.

Every truck most have hand-washing sinks, adequate water tanks and wastewater tanks, thermometers in all coolers and freezers, and effective screening.

"The inspections are out of nowhere, so this is why you have to keep doing your job good, because they could show up anytime," said Castaneda.

There are also personal hygiene requirements. Employees must wash their hands and wear clean clothes. There's no smoking or hand and arm jewelry.

Any truck that gets lower than a C grade will be shut down until violations are addressed.