Exploding Propane Tanks, No Government Agency Claims Authority Over Food Trucks
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From the shadow of the Cathedral of Learning on the Carnegie Mellon campus, food trucks sell all kinds of mouth-watering food.
“The food smells great and the food tastes great,” says Bob Bingham of North Point Breeze.
“The food is wonderful. It is very good,” adds Michelle Kieley of Lawrenceville.
But after an explosion of a propane tank in a food truck in Philadelphia, some wonder what protects the public, let alone the vendors.
“You would think that it would be inspected like restaurants get inspected for various safety things, and you would think these trucks would get inspected since they are functionally restaurants,” notes Kieley.
Rita Amin told KDKA money editor Jon Delano that she has operated India on Wheels for 16 years, and she has two propane tanks on her truck.
Delano: “Does anyone inspect your propane tank?”
Amin: “Propane tank? No, not specifically propane tank.”
When it comes to propane tanks, this may be an example of falling through the government cracks.
PennDOT does check the safety of these vehicles for brakes and things like that, and the county health department will check out to make sure that the food is sanitary and safe.
But as for propane, there is a Department of Industry & Labor but it only checks the tanks up to a point.
This state agency licenses the suppliers of propane tanks, but once sold, says spokeswoman Sara Goulet, “We have no jurisdiction over food trucks, whether the licensing or inspection of those.”
It’s not just food trucks that use propane tanks in public.
Check out any outdoor event — like this year’s Three Rivers Regatta – it’s full of tanks.
“We generally keep ‘em away from the public. want to keep them to the back,” says Mohammad Inaya with Friendly’s Catering that runs a food stand. “Don’t want to have any customers or anyone come into any potential hazard, any of the heat, or any of the pipes or hoses that run to the tanks.”
Vendors say they care about safety.
“We check it daily. We check the propane and the fire inspectors come along,” notes Tina Koutoufaris of Simons Foods.
Well, maybe in some states but not in Pennsylvania.
Like with the food trucks, no government agency takes responsibility.