Thus far most government offices inspect the sanitation of food trucks and rarely check for gas leaks or other similar potential dangers. That is, until one food truck in Minneapolis parked in Lakeville blew up because of a gas leak. This incident triggered a domino effect as one after another sectors of society began to question the safety of food trucks to the point of many consumers worried that they may not be safe being in close proximity to trucks that do not have to follow any propane safety measures.
In Minnesota, food trucks have annual inspections before a license is issued just like restaurants. And although gas leaks are rare, some feel that food truck employees should be trained to know the smell of gas leaks to prevent an explosion from happening. Aside from the incident at Lakeville, there were 4 other similar cases with food trucks last year with 2 deaths. Some of the safety procedures that must be observed are:
- Buying propane gas only from licensed dealers
- Twice yearly check of valves: once before the start of truck season and midway through the season
- Consider using other cooking methods other than propane gas
- Buying insurance to cover such incidents
- Report food trucks that are in violation of any safety standard for commercial vehicles
The Lakeville food truck was not in violation of any safety code. In fact, it was approved for licenses and permits every year since 2012. It never violated any city ordinance or law and only got citations for handlers not wearing sanitary gloves and the use of high concentrated cleaning solutions.
Food truck owners should have a protocol for employees to follow should the following happen:
- Smell of gas
- Changing of propane tanks
- Checking for leaks
Some of the do’s and don’ts for food truck operations using propane gas are:
- Evacuate the area after shutting down the gas and anything else that is heating
- Always make it a point to check the vents
- Never modify the propane set-up without a professional
- Make sure there is sufficient ventilation
Propane gas is dense so if there is a leak, the gas will settle at the feet level. Make sure you have nothing at the feet level that can cause a spark. You can also buy a leak detector and remind your staff to always shut off the gas at the end of the day and during rest periods.