Food Truck Safety a Priority for Council, Asks About Food Safety Grading

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Arsenal Project

Bon Me will be one of four food trucks at the Arsenal Project every Wednesday beginning May 21.

Bon Me will be one of four food trucks at the Arsenal Project every Wednesday beginning May 21.

Arsenal Project

The Town Council wants to make sure food trucks serving in Watertown are as safe as the restaurants in town.

Town Councilors want to make sure the food trucks coming to serve hungry residents and workers in town are up to the safety standards of all eateries in town. 

The Council made the request to Director of Public Health Deborah Rosati during the budget hearing for the Health Department.

Trucks visit the Commanders Mansion in the Arsenal on the Charles each weekday and the Arsenal Project every Wednesday during the warmer months.

Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she worries because people are not sure where the food comes from and where it was prepared.

Food trucks can be fun, said Councilor Cecilia Lenk, but she too had concerns.

“I think safety is a huge issue,” Lenk said. “Do we have a handle on where we want food trucks to go and how safe they are?”

She also worries about too many food trucks in town would be taking business away from the restaurants in town.

Chief Environmental Health Officer Kristel Bennett said the town regulates food trucks, and trucks serving food in town must have a sticker displayed on their bumper and a certificate hanging in a visible location.

Currently, Watertown does not regulate food trucks very strictly, Rosati said.

“Once they are licensed by us they have the right to go anywhere in town,” Rosati said. “There is a potential for a great number of trucks come in.”

Boston limits how many trucks can operate in the city and where they can go.

Councilors also asked if the Health Department would look at starting a restaurant safety grading system.

Rosati said that can be a tricky program to run.

“I have seen what happens. Some establishments never recover from a (bad) sanitary rating,” Rosati said. “Sometimes one of the safest places is a place that has gone through that and worked with a consultant.”

Rosati said she prefers to reach out to food serving establishments and educate them about what they do.

“Then maybe we can talk about a grading system,” Rosati said.

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