Dirty dining: What you need to know about the places you eat

- Is the food you get at a food truck really safe to eat? Who regulates it? We get the answers in this FOX 46 Charlotte dirty dining special report.

Head to the four pillars in uptown and you’ll find Halal Food Cart setting up for the night.

“I wouldn’t have imagined two, three years ago that we’d be in the heart of Charlotte.

Christopher Collado came from New York five years ago and brought a bite of the Big Apple with him.

“This is from the Halal food truck concept in New York. They were originally made for the taxis. Everyone’s in a rush and need to get food and get out quickly. That’s where it originated from,” Collado says.

The food smells amazing, but is it safe coming from a truck? We went to the Mecklenburg County Health Department to find out.

Lynn Lathan with the Health Department says people need to “look for a permit from the local health department and a score card posted in the window” when they eat at a food truck.

Lathan says she only eats at food trucks with an “A” health score. She says that’s “because I know what sorts of things are involved in the posting of those scores. It’s not something I would be interested in consuming food from.”

For example, the food truck called La Lonchera Latapatia received a low “B” rating after inspectors found employees handing raw meat, taking orders, and then touching ready to eat food – all with the same gloves.

Another food truck called Tacos Garduno also received a low “B” score when inspectors found roaches inside plastic containers and an employee washing his hands without soap.

Even Halal Food Cart dipped down to a “B” grade for a couple of months.

“It really just bothers me just looking at it. The fact you have to display it is like a loss to me. I’m trying to get the ‘W’ now. I’m trying to get the win.”

Collado did get the win and got back to an “A” grade. But first he had to change a few things. For example, he had to take the rice cookers off the floor.

Lathan says “that’s a violation because those are things that could be placed on food contact surfaces or things that food would be consumed from.”

Working a food truck is a tough gig. Collado says he’s a year and a half in and still perfecting his craft.

“I’m trying to find better ways to do it. Trying to see if I can attach a small compartment to it. Space is a really big thing right now.”

In the meantime, you can find chicken, rice, and falafel at the corner of Trade and Tryon.

“A lot of tourists come specifically just to see the four statues. They smell the food and we’re just there waiting for them.”

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