Food truck do’s and dont's

By Guest Author on 16 March 2018

In today’s uncertain times, many households are looking for a second income and very often the sale of food items may seem to be an easy way of making extra cash.  But before you dive into this project, it is best to do your research and educate yourself on what is required.  (Article updated 2019)

There's legislation involved?

So you think you are ready to start building (or converting) a food truck or a caravan for this purpose?  Sorry to disappoint you - before you pick up a tool you first need to read Regulation R638 - the "Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises, the Transport of Food and Related Matters" as this governs general hygienic requirements for food premises and the transport of food.  

Note: this replaces the old R962, and is more stringent on the GMPs than the previous version. There are  a number of changes in the regulation, but take special note of the changes relating to the duties of the "Person in Charge" of food premises.  If you want to read more about the changes, please have a look at these artices:

To comply with the law you will need a Certificate of Acceptability (COA) - and yes, this applies to food trucks too!

What is a COA and how do I get one?

A business licence is generally required for businesses that need to comply with health and safety regulations. As making, selling and serving food can impact on public health, you’ll need a licence to do so.  Even if you are selling food and meals from a food truck, which you take from place to place or sell from a vehicle, you’ll need a Certificate of Acceptability.


Finding an EHP

Once you have understood the requirements of the regulation 638, then can the design and construction of the food truck begin.  It is strongly advised that an Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) is contacted before any money is spent on the construction of the food truck.


Useful tip: Environmental Health Practitioners were previously called Health Inspectors and they can be contacted at your local municipality's Health and Social Development Department.

You will need to make an appointment with the EHP to find out all the various departments that need to be contacted.  


The EHP can assist with this information:

  • How to acquire for a trading license
  • How to obtain a permit for the site on which you wish to park from the metro police department
  • Where to go for the licensing of the food truck
  • Where to obtain a roadworthy certificate.


Building your  food truck

Here are a few pointers with regards the design and construction of the food truck:

  • The internal walls and work surfaces must be smooth.
  • There needs to be running hot and cold water.
  • Provide a separate basin or bowl for hand washing to the one used to clean utensils and other items.
  • Decide how best to keep the food stuffs cold, by using a cooler box or fridge.
  • Determine which thermometer would be best to monitor the hot and cold temperatures. 
  • Purchase suitable size waste bins with lids to hold the waste.
  • Have an adequately sized drum into which waste water can be decanted and later emptied into the sewer water system.
  • Determine what will be used to cook on, with careful consideration given to the fuel source to be used.
  • Evaluate the safety risks of the chosen fuel source and how best a fire will be contained and extinguished.
  • Source the appropriate protective gear including head covering and foot gear.
  • Decide where the food truck will be stationed and evaluate the possible risks of cross contamination from the outside environment.
  • Design the truck so that the ingress of contaminants from the outside environment can be minimized.
  • Upon deciding on the intended parking area of the food truck, investigate the access to toilets within a reasonable distance from the food truck.
  • Approach the business or factory closest to the food truck and set up an arrangement with the owner with regards waste disposal, the use of the toilet facilities, etc.
  • Determine where the food preparation steps will take place and consult with the EHP on your decision.


Useful tip:  Avoid using subgrade materials during the construction or alteration stages, as these may turn out expensive to redo or replace. Much time and money will be saved by consulting the EHP in depth on each stage of the project, with the implementation of their recommendation.




Michele Pietersen

See the related articles below for more useful startup information.

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