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Food Truck Inspection Checklist Requirements in Nebraska (2024 Guide)

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Jim McCormickAuthor

Guide to Food Truck Inspection Checklist Requirements in Nebraska

The food truck industry is experiencing remarkable growth, with the US sector expanding at an average annual rate of 9.9% between 2018 and 2023, resulting in 36,324 operational food trucks by the end of the latter year. (source) At that growth rate, the size of the food truck industry will have doubled between 2018 and 2024. This growth underscores the increasing popularity and viability of food trucks in the culinary landscape. 

However, amidst this industry growth, adherence to rigorous inspection checklists is paramount for sustained success. Food truck inspection checklists are designed to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations, are crucial for operating within legal boundaries and maintaining consumer trust. In this guide, we'll explore the importance of meeting inspection checklist requirements and how doing so can contribute to long-term success in the competitive food truck industry.

Preparing for the Food Truck Inspection Process in Nebraska

Before undergoing a food truck inspection, operators should thoroughly familiarize themselves with the requirements outlined by their local health department. This includes ensuring that all necessary permits and licenses are up to date and prominently displayed within the vehicle.

Additionally, conducting a comprehensive self-audit of the truck's cleanliness, equipment functionality, and adherence to food safety protocols can help identify and address potential issues proactively.

Food Truck Inspection Best Practices

While the following will help in any inspection of your food truck, these are also best practices to ensure that your daily operations are as efficient as possible.

Equipment

In the food truck inspection process, ensuring compliance with equipment standards is crucial. Regular inspection and maintenance of cooking equipment is essential to ensure functionality and safety. It's necessary to keep equipment clean and free of grease buildup to prevent fire hazards. Additionally, having fire extinguishers readily accessible ensures preparedness for emergencies.

Refrigeration

Another critical aspect of food truck inspection is refrigeration compliance. Proper monitoring and recording of refrigeration unit temperatures are necessary to uphold food safety standards. Regular cleaning and sanitization of refrigeration equipment help prevent contamination. Checking seals and gaskets ensures proper insulation and prevents temperature fluctuations, further ensuring compliance.

Washing Station

Maintaining compliant washing stations is essential in the food truck industry. Providing designated handwashing stations with hot water, soap, and disposable towels is a must. Staff adherence to proper hand washing protocols before and after handling food is crucial for maintaining hygiene standards. Regular cleaning and sanitization of washing stations further contribute to compliance efforts.

Proper Lighting

Proper lighting is a fundamental requirement for food truck operations. Both inside and outside the truck, adequate lighting ensures safe operation. Moreover, keeping lighting fixtures clean and free of debris is essential to prevent contamination during food preparation, ensuring compliance with lighting standards.

Fire Safety

Installing and maintaining fire suppression systems in cooking areas is crucial to prevent fire outbreaks. Regular inspection and cleaning of exhaust hoods and ducts help prevent grease buildup, further enhancing fire safety. Staff training in fire safety protocols, including evacuation procedures and the proper use of fire extinguishers, is essential for compliance and emergency preparedness.

What to Expect During the Food Truck Inspection Process

Food truck inspections encompass a thorough evaluation of various critical areas to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. These areas include:

Cleanliness

Inspectors will assess the cleanliness of countertops, cooking utensils, and food preparation areas to prevent foodborne illnesses and maintain customer trust.

Proper Storage and Labeling

Verification that food items are stored at safe temperatures and accurately labeled to prevent contamination and allergic reactions.

Food Preparation

Evaluation of adherence to strict food handling procedures to minimize the risk of cross-contamination and ensure the safety of the final product.

Employee Behavior

Assessment of staff hygiene practices, including hand washing and proper attire, to maintain a clean and sanitary environment.

Ventilation and Running Water

Confirmation of adequate ventilation and access to running water, essential for food safety and employee comfort.

Equipment and Evacuation Safety

Inspection of cooking equipment functionality and adherence to fire safety protocols to prevent accidents and ensure customer safety.

Paperwork and Legal Requirements

Review of permits and licenses to demonstrate compliance with regulatory standards and ensure the legality of operations.

By understanding and preparing for these inspection areas, food truck operators can streamline the inspection process and mitigate potential compliance issues, ultimately contributing to the success and longevity of their business.

Post-Inspection Next Steps

Following a food truck inspection, operators should anticipate several key actions:

Feedback and Recommendations

Inspectors will provide feedback and recommendations for improvement based on their findings during the inspection. This may include suggestions to enhance cleanliness practices or optimize food handling procedures.

Correction Deadlines

If any violations are identified during the inspection, operators will be provided with deadlines to address and rectify these issues. It is essential to promptly address any deficiencies to ensure compliance with regulations.

Possible Follow-Up Inspections

In some cases, inspectors may schedule follow-up inspections to verify that corrective actions have been implemented effectively. These follow-up visits ensure ongoing compliance with health and safety standards.

Penalties or Fines

Failure to address violations within the specified timeframe may result in penalties or fines. It is crucial for operators to prioritize timely correction of deficiencies to avoid potential financial repercussions.

In summary, post-inspection procedures play a critical role in maintaining compliance and upholding standards of quality and safety within the food truck industry. By promptly addressing feedback, meeting correction deadlines, and cooperating with inspectors, operators can ensure the continued success and longevity of their food truck ventures.

Food Truck Licenses and Permits Required in Nebraska

To legally operate a food truck, entrepreneurs must obtain several licenses and permits, including:

  1. Mobile Food Facility Permit
  2. Public Health Permit
  3. Food Seller’s Permit
  4. Employee Health Permit (also known as a Food Handlers License)

Mobile Food Facility Permit in Nebraska

What is it and why do you need it?

A mobile food facility permit ensures that the space where you plan to prepare and/or serve food is compliant with local food safety and worker safety standards. You cannot operate a food truck, food cart, or any other kind of mobile food business without one.

How do you get a mobile food facility permit license?

Different counties will dictate the factors that need to be considered, including what types of foods are prepared on the truck vs. at an offsite prep kitchen, what types of foods are sold (and how high-risk they are in terms of potential to cause food-borne illness), what kind of cooking will be done on the truck (Deep frying? Griddle only? Microwaving?), and how much preparation will need to be done at all (very little for ice cream vs. a lot for burritos).

In order to be approved, a mobile food facility will need to be able to show they are creating a safe and nonhazardous work environment for their workers, providing safe food for their customers, and following safe protocols for disposal of grease and other waste.

How much does a mobile food facility permit cost?

The cost of a mobile food facility permit will vary across cities and counties, and even within a city depending on the type of food truck operation. 

License NameCostLink

Mobile Food Facility

$86 per year

Nebraska State Legislature

Public Health Permit in Nebraska

What is it and why do you need it?

In most counties, food trucks will need to fill out a Public Health Permit/License application as food vendors, or risk being shut down for not being up to the Nebraska Health and Safety Code. 

How do you get a public health permit/license?

Fill out the application from your local public health department, prepare your facility for inspection, and review all food safety requirements. Once you’ve passed inspection, you can obtain your public health permit.

How much does a public health license cost?

It depends on your risk level — selling prepackaged food is cheaper, and less risky, than preparing meats and other foods on your premises. These license costs vary by county and can range from $100 to over $1,000. 

License NameCostLink

Public Health Permit/License

Around $100 - $1,000+

Will require application to your local public health department

Food Seller’s Permit in Nebraska

What is it and why do you need it?

Any business that plans to sell tangible goods that are subject to sales tax needs a seller’s permit. This permit allows them to charge sales tax.

How to get a seller’s permit?

You can register for a permit online through the SBA License and Permits portal.

How much does a food seller’s license cost?

There’s no fee to apply for a seller’s permit, but you may be asked to pay a security deposit to cover unpaid taxes if the business eventually closes.


License Name

Cost

Link

Seller's Permit

$0 (but a security deposit may be requested

SBA Licenses and Permits

Employee Health Permit (also known as a Food Handlers License)

What is it and why do you need it?

A food service license, also known as an employee health permit, allows food trucks to safely sell and serve food onsite. These licenses ensure that every employee knows how to do their part to keep your diners safe from foodborne illness. They’re often referred to as ServSafe, after the company that administers most food handler’s tests, or as a Nebraska Food Handler Card.

How to get a food handler’s license in Nebraska

Every employee who prepares or serves food in Nebraska must get their Food Handler’s license within 30 days of being hired 

And if managers have already gotten their Food Protection Manager Certification, they’re also exempt from getting a Nebraska Food Handler card. Some jurisdictions have their own food safety training programs and standards, so they’re exempt from requiring employees to get a Nebraska Food Handler card.

To get their food handler’s card, employees must pass a test about food safety and preparation with a grade of at least 70% (or higher in some jurisdictions).

How much does a food service license cost in Nebraska?

Nebraska state law requires that the test and license not cost more than $15, in order to make sure anyone working in a restaurant can afford to get certified.


License Name

Cost

Link

Food Handler's License

Up to $15 per employee

Nebraska Food Handler Training

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