Ector County Health Department to Enforce New Rules for Food Truck Vendors

Ector County Health Department to Enforce New Rules for Food Truck Vendors

By Geena Martinez

NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - The food truck industry is taking off in the Basin but their popularity is making it hard for the Ector County Health Department to keep up.

Officials said dozens of new vendors are coming into the county but not all of them are legal.

Julie Bader and her husband own The Food Mine off Kermit Highway.

"In the mornings we do breakfast burritos, pancakes and we occasionally do biscuits and gravy so pretty much what the customer wants, we offer," Bader said.

They're just one of many new mobile food service vendors popping up in the county but whether it's because people don't know or they just don't care, not all vendors are legal.

"We see a lot of ladies selling food out of the back of their cars," Bader said. "It takes away from our business and we're trying to do things right here and there are a lot of people that aren't."

It's a problem the Ector County Health Department has seen a lot of lately; mobile food vendors not having the proper permits and possibly putting the community's health at risk.

Health Department Director, Gino Solla, said his inspectors have seen it all from unsafe food storage to vendors even using meat that wasn't USDA certified.

"Maybe they had a pig, a cow and they slaughtered it themselves," he said. "Sewage disposal in inappropriate areas."

On Monday, in a 3-2 decision, Ector County Commissioners approved new rules that'll help keep control of the popular industry.

Starting next year, the health department will issue permits to only 25 food truck vendors at any given time. The six-month permits will be given out on a first come, first serve basis.

"We'll rotate the ones that have been permitted with hopefully new ones to follow in six months," Solla said.

All owners, managers and assistant managers will be required to get a food handler's card. Business hours for the vendors will also be restricted to 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.  

Todd Brown owns Brown's Barbecue LLC and he created the Midessa Mobile Food Vendors Association. He said he supports the changes and hopes they'll weed out the vendors who are just trying to make a quick buck.

"We are a direct reflection of each other," Brown said. "What you do at your truck, I'm supposed to do at mine and vice versa. We wanna make sure everyone is adhering to the same types of principles, philosophies."

Solla said overall, the updated regulations are for public safety. These new rules do not apply to restaurants with mobile catering units or special events like the Permian Basin Fair.

The requirements will start summer of 2015.