Make Your Food Truck Allergy Aware

Food allergy is on the rise. Due to this, consumers are becoming more aware and discerning with regard to the food they buy and eat. Which is why mobile food vendors should consider food allergy as a top priority not just to eliminate risks for the business but most importantly, to protect the health of customers.

Facts Worth Knowingpeanuts

According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies among children have increased 50% between 1997 to 2011. In the United States, as many as 15 million people (nearly 9 million adults and around 6 million children) have food allergies.

Severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Each year, an estimated 30,000 emergency room treatment, 2,000 hospitalizations, and 150 deaths resulted due to anaphylaxis in the US.

The economic cost of children’s food allergies is around $25 billion per year.

Major Food Allergens

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Act of 2004 (FALCPA) lists eight major food allergens:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish (e.g. bass, flounder, cod)
  4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)
  5. Tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

These major food allergens (and any ingredients containing protein derived from them) account for over 90 percent of all documented food allergies in the U.S. and represent food items most likely to result in severe or life-threatening reactions.

Eliminate RisksNut_warning_1

Food truck operators and employees should understand the importance of being allergy aware. Using a system to make sure customers are protected against allergens will not just prevent health risks and legal issues but also help give your business a positive image.

Here are some tips to make your food truck allergy aware.

  • Make it a policy to ask customers for any allergies upon ordering. Or put signs that list the ingredients your food truck use to inform people and remind them to disclose if they are allergic to such ingredients. It may be law to post a sign asking customer if they have any food allergies – check with your local health department.
  • Implement a food preparation system that prevents cross-contact contamination. Using different utensils for each ingredient, cleaning tools properly, frequent hand washing or use or gloves, and labeling containers are some ways to eliminate cross-contact of allergens to other products.
  • Never make assumptions about ingredients that are derived from other products. Some processed foods, like chopped nuts or canned products, may contain traces of other ingredients because they were processed in the same production line. Always read package labels of ingredients to make sure they do not contain food allergen derivatives.
  • Modify recipes to offer product variations or let customers have the choice to substitute ingredients. Instead of turning a customer away because of a food allergen, give them a “personalized option” that substitutes the ingredient they can’t eat without sacrificing quality or flavor. Offering choices or ability to substitute not only prevent lost of sale but can also improve your business image.

Food allergies should become a priority to mobile food vendors, to safeguard customers and also push business growth. Food trucks and the mobile food industry as a whole will have the highest possibility of success if great tasting products are available and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Sources:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm

http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

By |March 17th, 2015|Categories: food truck safety, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Winter Tips for Food Trucks

winter food truckFreezing temperatures and icy roads can be very troublesome mobile food vendors during winter. Not only do we have to deal with the snow, ice, and cold temps – but mobile food businesses have the double whammy of lower sales too!

But despite these setbacks, you can use the winter season to maximize the other aspects of your business instead of putting your food truck in hibernation.

Truck Maintenance
The down time during winter months gives opportunity for owners to do maintenance work on their trucks. It can be easy to put off having symptoms looked at and especially when your current sales are down. But a clicking sound now could turn into a broken CV joint in summer – and it could break and leave your truck not running when you need it the most. During winter is a great time to do maintenance work not just to take advantage of the down time but also as a precaution against the drastic effects of cold weather to food trucks.

Work on Recipes
Even if Mother Nature insists on trapping people indoors, you can still push your food truck business forward by creating new or improving current recipes. Test variations of dishes or incorporate new ingredients give interesting twists that attract more customers or enable you to increase prices. Improve or streamline food preparation process to save time and effort. The winter is also a great time to do experiments and test recipes to lower costs without sacrificing quality and taste.

Network and Connect
Some food truck scenes have more of a sense of community than others. Even though you can look at restaurants and mobile food vendors purely as competition, having a relationship with them can also benefit your business. Customers tend to try other offerings and it is highly unlikely that they will only eat from one type of food truck.

During the lean times of winter, make connections with non-competing businesses (like those offering a different category or cuisine than yours) that can compliment your products. Having a relationship with other entrepreneurs can also give you vital information about great vending spots and suppliers you did not know before.

TLC for Family and Yourself
Running a mobile food business year-round can become so demanding that some entrepreneur put all their time in the venture. Though dedication is great and a key to success, even the most hardworking entrepreneurs deserve a time off. Winter can be the best season to spend more time with your family or take a personal vacation. Some people think that taking a break can hurt their business and feel guilty to do it.

Having time off should not be seen as a liability but as an investment. Use the down time afforded to you by the winter season to strengthen relationships and most importantly, recharge your mind and body. Studies have shown that respite activities can improve productivity and creativity. Even if you already do this, don’t feel guilty recharging yourself for the next season.

Hunt for Deals
Another great thing one can do during winter is deal hunting for equipment and supplies. Finding great suppliers can take a lot of time and effort that entrepreneurs may not have during busy months. Price, reliability, stability, and competency are key indicators in finding business partners for your equipment and supplies.

In addition, suppliers can be an important source of information about competitors’ actions, evaluation of new products, and promising trends or opportunities. Strive to create lasting partnerships with great suppliers that can help you cut cost (offering discounts or free shipping), improve your products or services (by suggesting good alternatives), and even spread the word about your business. A great supplier wants you to succeed as it can lead to more business for them.

SPRING IS COMING SOON!!!

As harsh as the winter has been these past months, food truck owners should not be dissuaded by the cold temps and lower sales volume. Just like the seasons with its highs and lows, running a mobile food business can be cyclical. Just stay positive, proactive, and passionate because, whether in nature or in business, those who can adapt are those who will survive.

What tips do you have? We’d love to hear them. Tweet to us or comment below!

By |March 1st, 2015|Categories: blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments