We’ve been in the business for quite a while, and we’ve learned what to watch out for after a while. Several food poisonings later, and a lot of experience under our belt taught us to avoid roach coaches.

A roach coach is what badly maintained and unsafe gastro trucks are called. Sometimes they’re called barf buggies. While it sounds funny, it’s no joke, and you should avoid them.

Back in the day, food trucks offered simpler menus and made simpler food, and the term roach coach was somewhat of an endearment. These lower quality trucks were the best thing around, and they went around construction sites and fed workers.

dirty food truck

These days, high quality gourmet trucks are what you should come to expect. Often, you’ll get the exact same quality meal from a truck that you’d get from a restaurant. Most owners are very serious about health and safety, and so is the state (there are almost absurd amounts of legalization and permits you need to own to run a food truck).

Check them out online

Sometimes, a well cleaned roach coach doesn’t look bad on the outside, and you should check out their reviews online. If a food truck has many bad reviews (more than the regular, few 0 stars from angry customers), they’re most likely bad.

Better be safe than sorry, especially with your food. Sometimes food poisoning can last an entire week, and you shouldn’t take those chances. It’s even worse if they have no online profiles, which can mean they’re either very new (unlikely) or trying to hide their horrible reputation.

Check out if they display their permits and certificates

Most states require food trucks to display their papers, and you should see them either somewhere around the menu or just behind the counter. If you can’t see their certs, take your business elsewhere. The government is strict, sometimes too strict, but all those laws, rules and regulations exist to protect the end customer from shady business.

Their truck and equipment looks filthy

If it seems like the truck wasn’t washed for weeks, or if the kitchen and the staff seem too dirty and mess, it’s time to walk away. A good food truck is well maintained and clean (as much as it can be). If someone doesn’t care to clean their truck and kitchen, you can’t expect them to serve safe food.

You bought a meal, but it smells/tastes funny

It’s time to cut your losses and toss that meal in the garbage bin. Uncooked meats, rancid ingredients or moldy bread will make you very sick. In rare occasions it can even put your life at risk (especially from the uncooked meat). If you can, it’s best to spit out the rotten food as soon as you can.

Tell the food truck that they’ve sold you bad food, and see how they react. Having bad food should never happen, but if they apologize and give you a good meal then don’t worry.

If they’re confrontational, want to start a fight or call you names, be sure to leave a bad review online. Or even contact the authorities.

All said and done, never mess with your health, and don’t tempt food poisoning.