California takes truckstop food off hazmat's plate

| 12/24/2002

For the first time ever, health department inspectors in Sacramento County, CA, will look over the area's roughly 200 restaurants and snack shops that are part of gas stations and truckstops, The Sacramento Bee reported Dec. 23.

So who's been keeping an eye on the blue plate special up till now in California's capital city? Hazardous materials inspectors.

The use of hazmat inspectors to keep an eye on truckstop fare was not a commentary on the quality of the chicken-fried steak; it was a regulatory fluke, the newspaper said. Since fuel stations carry hazardous materials, all of their operations and products - even the ones that ended up inside hungry truckers - were covered by hazmat teams.

While the hazmat teams were trained to do the food inspections, officials didn't think those inspections were quite up to snuff. So the duties are being switched to the experts.

Richard Sánchez, chief of the county's environmental health division, said most of the truckstop eateries were no danger to the public.

"They are serving coffee, or maybe hot dogs, so the level of risk is pretty low," he told The Bee.