Clean SHiFT: Safety and Health in Food Trucks: A program for safer cleaning chemical transitions for the Food Truck industry
In the U.S., federal and state regulations dictate how businesses must clean, which drives the selection of cleaning materials in an effort to meet those regulations. Most cleaning agents impact the environment or living systems negatively. Wastewater increases nitrates and phosphates in water and soil systems, pollutes drinking systems and impacts human, plant and animal health. Traditional cleaning products are associated with both acute and chronic health problems and disproportionally affect communities of color, women, and children. The food truck industry is fast-growing and is oftentimes the only available food in both rural and urban food deserts. While there is much research around food safety concerns in food trucks, chemical exposure concerns are significantly understudied, presenting an enormous opportunity for reductions in the use of hazardous materials.
This project brings together a multidisciplinary team including UW investigators, diverse and traditionally underserved communities, as well as small business owners not previous engaged in safe chemical transition and hazard awareness, to work with the food truck industry to promote best cleaning practices and technical assistance to shift toward safer chemical alternatives.
“Why food trucks? Imagine how difficult it must be for the operators, working in confined spaces and now cleaning more often because of the coronavirus pandemic. Food trucks also are a small business for some immigrant entrepreneurs who could use help meeting health and safety regulations.” – Excerpt from article in UW Bothell News
A new toolkit was developed for food truck owners/operators/workers and other stakeholders to reduce their use of chemicals, their hazards to living systems and the risks to our waterways. In 2019, King County reported over 400 food trucks operating in the county alone. With plans to expand the toolkit across the state, it’s easy to see the deep impact this toolkit can have for employees and the environment immediately and long-term.
In the News
Green ways to keep food trucks clean – UW Bothell News, March 2021