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Ask a Health Inspector: Let's Talk Santa's Food Truck


Q: The holiday season is upon us, Jason. Soon the little boys and girls will be gorging themselves on Christmas candies and filling our landfills with excess wrapping paper… I am thinking of buying a food truck and was wondering if you could assist me with some of the requirements before getting a permit. Thanks, and inevitably, you will have a Christmas.                                                                                                                                                                ~ K. Rampus


A: Wow K, I have to say is that is probably the most intense “question” I have had all year. This reminds me of a situation I was in a few years ago. I wrote it all down so I wouldn’t forget. Hope this helps.



'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the office,

Not a creature was stirring, not even the bosses.

But I, at my desk, was trying to write

Sighing and realizing I'd be there all night.


Dimming the screen brightness and adjusting my glasses,

I was hammering out articles as Christmas Eve passes


The coffee was steaming on its eye in a pot,

That, and some soup, the only things that were hot.


I glanced out the window for a peek at the snow

Where a blizzard was blowing snowflakes to and fro.


When what to my wandering eyes did appear?

A mobile food unit?!?

And 8 tiny reindeer?


I rushed through the office and ran out the door,

Knocking papers aside and pushing chairs to the floor


The truck flew through the air as if by some kind of magic

And landed perfectly in front of me despite the holiday traffic


Out hopped a fellow in a jolly red suit

And adjusting his cap, and stomping his boots,

made his way forward, smoothing the hair on his chin,

"Claus is the name" he said with a grin


"I'd like to acquire a permit" he said

"for my truck, Tinsel Tacos and

 Sweet Gingerbreads."


He watched as I glanced at his truck, front to back,

"I assure you it's got everything down to the dish rack!"

His food truck was decked in a holiday fashion,

"Christmas is my gig, but tacos? My Passion!


He flung the door open before I could speak,

And climbed up inside, just as quick as a wink.

I said, "Wait, wait, Santa! That’s not how it's done!"

But I took a step in, for nothing but fun.


I saw a large bag on the floor of his truck

And he was pulling food out while I stood there dumbstruck.


I stammered and shook,

And took a step back.

When did he prepare this food

from his sack?


He turned around quick, hands behind his back

And fired up a grill for a quick midnight snack.


"What's your pleasure?" he asked

His eyes all aglow,

"Al pastor? Asada? Fried fish? Chorizo?


His menu looked solid,

His equipment? Commercial.

The taco he offered was more than a mouthful.


I started to think this was some kind of bribe,

And then he started reciting a long diatribe

About cooking before permitting and the storing of foods

And how inspectors in other counties were "really cool dudes".


"Mrs. Claus has a gift for the cooking of rices, and

An insatiable curiosity for the mixing of spices.

She prepared all this food at the pole for my trip."

He said with a wink and a smile on his lip.


I straightened myself up, and said "Hold on, Now!"

And shaking my head and furrowing my brow,

I slapped the taco out of his hand,

And demanded he show me his blueprints and plans


"A completed application would be your first step

In gaining a permit to begin some food prep


And if you bring food in before getting approval

You have just guaranteed its immediate removal


Your spoons and utensils are all made of candy!

And you keep them all stored in a hard candy pantry!


And please don’t think I'm being unreasonable,

but candy cane forks are not easily cleanable


And let's talk about water, where's your handwashing sink?

Is that an ice machine with mold and mildew that’s pink?"


His beard, like snow, was so white and so hairy,

"I'm sorry Santa", I said, “but we'll have to meet at your commissary.


Your gray water dumped and utensils washed daily,

We have to make sure you are handling food safely.


And that pipe that you smoke, with its sweet Christmas scent,

Will have to stay out if you want a permit."


His mouth dropped open, his pipe fell to the floor

He mumbled some curse words, but didn’t say more.


He slammed the door shut, I could tell he was angry.

He grimaced and pointed a gloved finger at me.


"Fine", he sighed, with complete exasperation,

"I'll give it away, for a 'suggested donation' "


Then he kicked me in the shin, and yelled, "SAINT NICHOLAS RULES!!"

And while skulking away he said, "Environmental Health drools…"


I had a Christmas altercation with a food truck Kris Kringle,

Who then dashed out the lot without even a jingle.


"On Bacon, on Bagel, on Beancurd, on Gouda,

On Jackfruit, on Chutney, on Tater, on Strudel"


And I heard him exclaim, with a voice like a broadcasters,

"Merry Christmas to all, except Jason Masters"


Have a safe and happy holiday season, friends!

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