GREATER LAFAYETTE AREA, Ind. (WLFI) - All week long we're taking a special in-depth look at hot trucks: refrigerated trucks state police have pulled over and discovered were carrying food that could make you sick.
"It's very, very important to partner with a company that's really got the proper procedures in place," said John Christos, the owner of Christos New City Grill, RedSeven Grill and Camille's Sidewalk Cafe.
Christos said it should be the goal of every restaurant: keep the customers safe.
He said he prevents spoiled, rotten food from entering his stores by carefully inspecting the food service company before ever signing a contract.
"We actually do a site visit to the facility, because it really starts from the factory. It's not just the truck, it's the facility that it starts with. We go over their procedures. 'How often do they do an independent audit?'" said Christos.
Christos said once he feels like company is acceptable, he will sign the contract.
Once deliveries start, restaurant managers make sure the refrigerated food has been stored adequately on the truck by using an infrared thermometer.
"That gives a really quick indication if any of the cases are out of range. We can also spot-check individual cases if we're a little bit concerned," Christos said.
Christos said once the food has been given the go-ahead, within one minute, employees transport the food to a walk-in refrigerator.
In the refrigerator, temperatures are taken periodically and whenever food is taken out, it is also checked before it gets used.
Christos said another way his stores properly store food at the right temperatures is by arranging his walk-in refrigerators. He said he keeps items like vegetables and fruits closer to the door while products like meat and dairy sit closer to the refrigerating unit.
About ten miles down the road in Otterbein, Fellure Foods is also equipped with infrared thermometers used for checking newly delivered food.
Owner Drew Fellure said once the food makes it into his store, refrigerator temperatures are monitored 24/7.
"Our system throws out an alarm. It will actually call my cell phone and alert me if temperatures are exceeding the limits that they are supposed to be at," said Fellure.
Fellure's wife, along with some of Christos' managers, are all ServSafe certified. This means they have been trained to safely handle and store food.
Fellure said having that certification is part of keeping the customers safe and happy.
"We strive to provide the best quality of product and that begins with our delivery," said Fellure.
Despite all the safety precautions Fellure and Christos take in order to keep foods stored at a proper temperature, they both said they've never had an issue with hot trucks. They both said sticking with a reputable food service company is key.
Christos said he and his managers work hard to keep food stored at the right temperatures, not only for the customer's sake but for the restaurant as well.
He said Health Department citations are not only embarrassing and can turn away customers, but they can lead to the shutdown of a restaurant as well.
Wednesday, we'll take a look at why our area seems to be such a hot spot for hot trucks and what state troopers are doing about it.
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