Author Topic: Mechanical Refrigeration  (Read 5004 times)

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BeefyDJangles

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Mechanical Refrigeration
« on: July 29, 2015, 04:22:39 PM »
I just heard back from my health department today and they informed me that if I wanted to offer items such as tomatoes, sauerkraut, chili, cheese, and grilled onions I would need mechanical refrigeration on the cart.  My plan was to order the cash cow from Ben's Carts.  I am not sure if they will be able to customize the cart to add mechanical refrigeration with the existing cooler or if it would even be worth it.  Obviously the easy way around this would be to just remove those items from my menu however I had planned to offer a Chicago style dog which is pretty important seeing as I am located in Illinois.  Suggestions, help, criticism?

DaddyDog

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2015, 07:06:37 PM »
How about temporarily taking them off your menu for now.
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BeefyDJangles

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2015, 09:06:55 PM »
I checked with Ben and they are able to add a mechanical fridge/freezer, however it is on a different cart then the one I was originally wanting.  Obviously there is a higher cost but my bigger concern is that the health department will give me trouble since the cart design is different then what I originally submitted.  I am going to health department tomorrow so we will see what happens.

DaddyDog

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2015, 05:13:35 AM »
Keep us posted.
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duggsdoggs

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2015, 09:02:39 AM »
Look at what you want to serve then consider what you need to serve to make a profit.  Also adding a mechanical cooler will also increase the resale value of the cart.
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BeefyDJangles

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2015, 02:53:24 PM »
The fridge/freezer that Ben puts in his carts is the following:

http://www.edgestar.com/FP430-Compact-EdgeStar-Portable-Refrigerator-Freezer/FP430,default,pd.html

My health department tells me they will not approve this because it is not commercial or NSF approved.  I need another option to go with.  I have searched a ton of different sites but can not seem to find a suitable option.  The health department said that even if it is not physically built into the cart that is fine.  I can have it as a stand alone unit next to the cart just so long as I have it.  HELP PLEASE!

DaddyDog

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2015, 05:43:02 PM »
Just take those items off you application so that you can pass inspection. Then once you get up and running just give them a call if/when you offer those items.

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duggsdoggs

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2015, 06:06:11 PM »
This is copied from Benscarts.com


"Some states do require carts to meet nsf standard 59, our carts do meet and exceed these standards. I don’t want to bore you to tears, but this is important. NSF, found at http://www.NSF.org is a private organization; they are not a government entity. They are known among the industry for certifying compliance to specific standards. Underwriters Labs is another one. You may be more familiar with U.L., and you have surely seen the U.L. mark on products before. U.L. is another organization that certifies compliance to Standard 59.

Some uninformed HD inspectors will state that their rules require all food equipment to be ‘NSF approved.’ Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I have yet to see a state with a rule that says this. If you find one, you will have a good case for a lawsuit. Can you imagine the state rules or codes saying that you must purchase all your prescription drugs at CVS? Or, what if they told you that you could only shop at Kmart? Well, they don’t; this would violate Federal Laws. What happens is, a zealous inspector will read, “. . . all food equipment must meet Standard 59 and/or be certified through an independent agency such as NSF.”

Some states don’t even require this at all. Only the areas where food is stored, prepared and cooked must be certified to Standard 59 in most states. They don’t want you cooking hot dogs in an open dirt fire pit, but some states may only require you purchase commercial grade cooking utensils and materials, e.g. pans, lids and tongs.

What if your HD person tells you this? Simple. Ask to see the rule or code that specifically states this. If they pull it out, and you show them the error of their ways and they continue to be ignorant, then just call the State Director. All of these fine folks have a boss. Call the State Board of Health, or whatever it’s called in your state, and talk directly to the Director or the Director’s Assistant.

I found in one instance where a HD employee was telling this potential vendor the same thing. I called and spoke with her and she didn’t admit her error. I called the State Director and he verified my position and called the county HD office. Still, this woman refused to reconsider her opinion. Later I found that she had family members with restaurants in the area and was simply trying to protect them from the evil HDV. I am told she no longer works with the HD.

Again, I am not trying to scare you. I want you to be educated as much as possible, so that in the event you face an ignorant HD employee with a chip on his or her shoulder, you will be well informed and prepared to take a stand.

Yes, you could just buy a NSF certified cart for about $1,000 more, but why would you? This process takes months and months, and thousands of dollars so I can understand why a manufacturer must charge more for a certified compliant cart. This isn’t an option for most, like me, when you are starting out. Funds are limited or non-existent.

For those in North Carolina, we are approved statewide under their new regulations. If you have any trouble or are told you must have an NSF cart, please contact me directly and I will forward you a letter from the State of NC approving our carts. Email admin@benscarts.com"
The information contained is provided in good faith, and every reasonable effort is made to ensure that it is accurate and up to date. Accordingly, this information is provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind.

BeefyDJangles

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2015, 07:26:08 PM »
I am located in Illinois and not being able to offer all the ingredients of a Chicago Dog I think would really upset my customers.  I did ask the HD why I needed the NSF rating even though Ben's website says they can not legally require it.  I told her how that exact refrigeration unit passed inspection in other areas and asked why it was not ok with them.  She was totally bogus about it too because she sent me an email at the end of the day telling me that unit would not work and when I called her she was gone for the day.  I did find another option though I believe:

http://www.jesrestaurantequipment.com/CM411L7-Summit--Undercounter-Commercial-RefrigeratorFreezer-Reach-in-wFront-Lock_p_37444.html

It has her magic words of 'approved for commercial use' and 'NSF' so I think she has to approve it.  She is fine that it is not attached to the cart so now I  just need to find a way to power it.  Though it is going to be a major pain to always have to haul a 75lb fridge each time I go out.  Now I just need to find out how to power it.  I should find out Monday what the verdict is.  Fingers crossed.

duggsdoggs

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2015, 04:14:16 AM »
If you can afford to do that, great, if it was me I would get certified then fight her requirement, which I think is wrong because as Ben stated everyone has a boss and if you can not show me in writing you have violated my rights to work.  I can't tell you what to do because it is your life, your business and for my I am Retired with a Retirement check coming in every month and I am employed full time with a check coming in every two weeks and I have my hot dog cart with its income so what I say could only be good for me.  I would check around the area and see what other vendors have; like you say your are in Illinois and I find it hard to believe that there is not a Bens Cart operating in that state.   I would like to know how it turns out.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 04:18:52 AM by duggsdoggs »
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OzDogs

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2015, 04:41:40 AM »
Yeah there is a point where I just loose all patience and do what I want.

What I like about this board is if any of us are skimping on product quality or cleanliness, it's the rest of our jobs to jump down your throat.

If me or Dugg inspected you, you would not be walking away smiling all the time.

We're better than the certs. So sometimes we just do what we want.

One time this so totally happened to us. Here we are booking back from an early catering gig and we get stuck in traffic and right in front of our eyes, a parade happens. So we set up and sell. We had product left. And I swear to Gods, this tout bus pulls up and all these women in negligee, like undypants pours out of it with an entire orchestra and all the sudden we are selling and I am watching scantily clad women danding and somebody says "are you going to electic light parade tonight" and I said yeah, we got a spot reserved, where are you guys gonna be? That's how I found out where it was. They told me so I knew.

Hey being sneaky? You absolutely have to have some sneaky.

So we went out and restocked and hit the third thing for the day. It was a trifecta day. And I'm pretty sure we violated about oh, maybe a dozen or so local ordinaces to do so but we just looked like we fit in. We even helped out this other guy that had no lights on his rig and loaned him our flashlights. We had our dual matle propane lamps going. We were a LIGHTHOUSE AMONG STARS.

Always do what you can for the other guy. Tell you another story about that in about 5 minutes.

BeefyDJangles

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2015, 11:31:59 AM »
I am in the central/southern part of Illinois and there are no other hot dog cart vendors in the area though there are plenty of food trucks that serve other styles of menu items.  The problem is that according to the current codes in the area, they hold me to all the same standards as a food truck.  They also don't post the requirements on their website or anything like that so I don't have the exact rules which puts her in even more power.  I have jumped through several hoops so far and like you say, I am just loosing patience.  I think what I have should work but I honestly have no idea what she is going to come up with next.  I think this could be a reason why there are no other hot dog carts in the area and to me it is super clear that there is an unfair bias against me.

I told her that all my condiments will be stored on ice and held to proper temperatures.  My condiment caddies have the space for ice packs for underneath.  They are covered up with a lid.  I will never be open for longer than 4 hours at a time, and I told her I would throw out any left over products of items that she tells me are potentially hazardous.  She still said that she would not approve potentially hazardous items on the menu without that commercial mechanical refrigerator.

She also said she would not approve my sink on the cart for any ware washing at all.  At first I was going to get the 4 sink option but now will only get the 1 sink.  I mentioned that the sink would allow me to rinse a utensil in case I dropped it and she said I could not do that, REALLY!?! 

Luckily once I get passed this approval process I should be good.  I have heard from the food trucks that the health department lets them get away with a lot.  I guess its just this initial process.  I also am only operating at late night on the college campus from 11pm - 3am so I doubt the health inspector is going to be coming out at those times but you honestly never know.

I will also have to get permits through the city.  And the city has approved locations that I am allowed to operate.  When I was at a bar a couple weeks back I was talking with a friend about the cart and this lady next to me starts asking me questions about it.  Turns out she is the one that issues those permits for the city.  She says that since the food trucks are still relatively a new thing and a lot of the legislation is vague, that they seem to allow a lot more then what I originally thought.  For example, they say I can't park my truck in the same area as the cart, but this lady said, unless someone complains, no one is really going to call you on it.  So I really think I just need to get past this initial inspector and her crazy standards and I should be good to go.

duggsdoggs

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2015, 01:39:45 PM »
Always remember that this is your business and what you do it up to you; good or bad; you are the boss.  Good!! Good!!
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DaddyDog

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2015, 06:34:42 PM »
Good luck to you and thanks for keeping us posted.
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BeefyDJangles

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Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2015, 12:51:33 PM »
So this inspector is tough and really won't budge.  She said she wanted a mechanical fridge that was commercial and NSF.  So I found one, sent it to her, and now she says the fridge is not rated for outdoor use so she won't approve that either.  Here is the specific portion of the code she is referring to:

Section 750.140 Refrigerated Storage

a) Enough conveniently located refrigeration facilities or
effectively insulated facilities shall be provided to assure the
maintenance of potentially hazardous food at required
temperatures during storage. Each mechanically refrigerated
storage facility storing potentially hazardous food shall be
provided with a numerically scaled indicating thermometer,
accurate to plus or minus 3 degrees F., located to measure the
air temperature in the warmest part of the facility and located
to be easily readable. Recording thermometers, accurate to
plus or minus 3°F may be used in lieu of indicating
thermometers.

b) Potentially hazardous food requiring refrigeration after
preparation shall be labeled or tagged with the date and time
of preparation and rapidly cooled to an internal temperature
of 41°F. Potentially hazardous foods of large volume or
prepared in large quantities shall be rapidly cooled, utilizing
such methods as limiting depth of food to 4 inches or less,
agitation, quick chilling or water circulation external to the
food container. Potentially hazardous food to be transported
shall be pre-chilled and held at a temperature of 41°F or
below unless maintained in accordance with the hot storage
requirements contained in Section 750.150.

1) Cooked potentially hazardous food shall be cooled:
A) From 135°F (60°C) to 70°F (21°C) within 2 hours;
and
B) From 70°F (21°C) to 41°F (4.5°C), or below, within
4 more hours (or within a total of 6 hours).

2) Potentially hazardous food shall be cooled to 41°F
(4.5°C) or below within 4 hours if prepared from
ingredients at ambient temperature


I think I finally just have to bite the bullet and take tomatoes off the menu just to get the initial approval complete.  I am fairly sure it is not the same inspector after the approval process so they may have more attainable standards.  Any other possible suggestions after reading the code?