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A guide to pre-departure checks for your mobile catering van

Operating a mobile catering van has its unique challenges. One of them is ensuring the safety and hygiene of the food you serve. As a food truck operator, you need to adhere to stringent health laws and regulations. One essential aspect of this is conducting thorough pre departure checks for mobile catering van.

This guide will walk you through an extensive list of pre-departure checks to ensure your mobile catering van is in top shape before you hit the road.

Introduction to pre-departure checks

Pre-departure checks are a series of inspections conducted on board your mobile catering van before it sets off for the day's operations. These checks help ensure that your van adheres to established safety and hygiene standards, and that your food truck business operates at its maximum capacity, providing your customers with safe, delicious food.

Importance of pre-departure checks for your food truck

Conducting pre-departure checks can help prevent food-borne illnesses and health concerns amongst your customers. It also ensures that your food truck is operating at its best, reducing the risk of mechanical problems that could disrupt your service.

Pre-departure checks also keep your employees on their toes. Regular checks can help instil a culture of safety and hygiene amongst your staff, which is essential in the food truck industry.

Pre-departure checks: A step-by-step guide

Cafe food truck parked

Let's dive into the specifics of what a thorough pre-departure check should include.

Checking potentially hazardous foods

One of the first things health inspectors look at is potentially hazardous foods. These are items like meat, poultry, and seafood, which require specific storage and holding temperatures to prevent bacterial growth and food-borne infections.

Verifying food safety knowledge

Your employees should have a thorough understanding of their local public health codes and be well-versed in food preparation and handling techniques. Regular training sessions should be conducted to ensure that your team is up-to-date with the latest food safety practices.

Inspecting water and waste disposal systems

Your street food truck should have adequate portable water for hand washing and food preparation. The wastewater tank should have a minimum capacity of 50% more than your water tank to ensure proper waste disposal.

Examining food storage units

Your refrigeration units should be in good condition and have an accurate thermometer to monitor temperature levels. All hazardous goods should be stored separately to prevent cross-contamination.

Reviewing vehicle condition and equipment

Your mobile catering trailer should be in good working order, with all equipment functioning correctly. This includes cooking appliances, refrigeration units, heating equipment, and more. Any broken or malfunctioning equipment should be repaired or replaced before food trucks goes into operation.

Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene

Cleanliness is paramount in a food truck. The interior of the truck should be clean and free from any waste or debris. Regular cleaning schedules should be maintained, and deep cleanings should be performed periodically to ensure a sanitary environment.

Catering liability insurance considerations

It's also important for street food businesses to have the appropriate insurance therefore it's essential to consider catering liability insurance. This type of insurance can protect your business from potential risks and liabilities related to your catering services and operations.

Checking temperature control systems

Temperature control is crucial for maintaining the safety of potentially hazardous foods. Your food truck should have adequate systems in place to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Regular checks should be made to ensure these systems are functioning correctly.

Reviewing staff hygiene practices

Your staff should follow stringent hygiene practices, including regular hand washing, wearing clean uniforms, and avoiding any actions that could potentially contaminate food.

Conducting pest control checks

Your food truck should be free from pests. Regular pest control measures should be taken to ensure this, and any signs of pests should be dealt with immediately.

Inspecting lighting and ventilation systems

Proper lighting and ventilation are essential for a safe and comfortable working environment. Your truck should have adequate lighting to prepare food and for serving. Ventilation systems should be in place to remove fumes, smoke, steam, and vapours.

Checking for proper labelling and packaging of food

Food items should be correctly labelled with information about ingredients, allergens, and expiry dates. They should also be packaged in a way that prevents contamination.

Ensuring compliance with local regulations

Your food truck should comply with all local regulations regarding food safety, hygiene, and transport. This includes having the necessary permits and licenses to operate.

Regularly conducting these pre-departure checks can go a long way in ensuring the safety and success of your mobile catering business. Not only do they help prevent food safety incidents, but they also contribute to a positive reputation and customer satisfaction.


Operating a food truck involves far more than just cooking and serving food. It requires a deep understanding of food safety practices and a dedication to maintaining a clean and safe environment. By following the pre-departure checks listed in this guide, you can ensure that your food truck is ready to hit the streets and serve delicious, safe food to your customers.

Remember, the key to a successful food truck business is not just great food, but also a complete commitment to food safety and hygiene. So, before you start your food truck's engine, make sure you've ticked off all the items on your pre-departure checklist.

Frequently asked questions

What license do you need for a food truck in the UK?

Starting a food truck business in the UK is an exciting venture! However, you'll need to ensure you have the right licenses to operate legally. Most notably, you'll require a Street Trading License from your local council to sell food from your truck.

You must register your food business with the local authorities at least 28 days before trading. Remember also that your food truck must meet food hygiene standards and get a Food Hygiene Rating.

Do you need planning permission for a burger van on private land?

Setting up your burger van on private land might seem an easy route to a thriving business, but it's worth noting that you may need planning permission. Generally, if the van is stationary and trading regularly, planning permission will likely be required.

This is to ensure the business complies with zoning rules, health and safety standards, and does not cause nuisance to neighbours. It’s always best to check with your local authority to know the specific regulations in your area

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