Food Truck Safety

Food truck safety information from Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).

What is Mobile Food Service Equipment?

In Ontario, mobile food service equipment — commonly called a food truck — is any truck, cart, or trailer that:

  • Contains propane or other hydrocarbon fuel-fired cooking appliances, and 

  • Is used primarily for food preparation.

The most common equipment are food trucks, chip wagons, coffee trucks and hotdog carts. 

How Does TSSA Regulate Food Trucks?

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority’s (TSSA’s) Fuels Safety Program regulates mobile food service equipment.  

All fuel-fired mobile food service equipment in Ontario must:

If you need a food truck inspection, use our Find a Registered Fuels Contractor tool to find a contractor near you .

To apply for a Mobile Food Service Equipment Field Approval, visit the Field Approval page. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions on the same page. 

What to Do if You are Organizing an Event

If you are organizing an event involving food trucks, make sure all food truck owner/operators:

  • Provide copies of appropriate licenses, permits and liability insurance coverage.

  • Provide a copy of their TSSA Field Approval and proof of annual inspection.

  • Display danger labels on cooking and heating equipment.

  • Show proof that they have trained their staff on fuel safety, propane tank and generator operation, and emergency procedures.

  • Have fully charged fire extinguishers and a carbon monoxide detector on board.

  • Have a plan for making sure electrical cords from generators do not cause a tripping or electrocution hazard.

  • Have a plan for safely transporting and storing their propane tanks.

Propane Appliance Safety

  • Many food trucks use propane to power ovens, burners, and fryers. If someone incorrectly maintains or operates this equipment, it can cause injury — and even death — from fire, explosion, or carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Propane is especially dangerous because leaking gas can pool in pockets and crevasses inside and outside a food truck. One spark from the stove, oven or other ignition source can ignite this propane and cause a serious accident. Food trucks often make use of five times as much propane as a home barbecue. This amount of propane packs the explosive power of more than 750 sticks of dynamite!

  • Make sure there is enough ventilation in your food truck before you use propane. 

  • Shut the propane tank off at the end of the workday and during breaks.

  • Know where the gas lines are located inside your truck so that you don’t accidentally damage them when you move kitchen appliances.

  • Understand the markings on your propane cylinders. Known how to read the symbols that show what type of tank you have, the original manufacture date, and the re-certification date. Don’t use your cylinders beyond their certified number of years.

  • Make sure that an appropriately trained worker inspects gas systems before each use.

Training your Staff on Propane Safety

Make sure that anyone who will use propane knows how to safely install and disconnect propane cylinders and detect leaks. They also must know how to follow emergency procedures.

You and your staff should know what propane smells like. Propane manufacturers usually add a harmless chemical to the gas that makes it smell like rotten eggs. Retailers also sometimes offer scratch pads that can help your employees recognize propane’s distinct odor so they can more easily detect leaks.

Make sure you have trained everyone working on the food truck on the properties of propane. You must also teach them how to:

  • Use portable fire extinguishers and extinguishing systems.

  • Shut off fuel sources.

  • Notify the local fire department.

  • Refuel safely.

Dealing with Propane Leaks

Contact a qualified propane service retailer to connect tanks to your food truck appliances. Routinely check the condition of your connections for leaks. Make sure you check for leaks every time a new connection is made to any gas system, and every time you change a cylinder. To test for leaks, apply a solution of equal parts water and dish soap to all propane cylinder connections and hoses. If bubbles appear, gas may be leaking. Tighten the connection and retest. If bubbles reappear, contact a TSSA-certified technician to repair or replace damaged parts.

Never try to fix a leak yourself. If you suspect a leak, call your supplier immediately. Do not use any appliance connected to a cylinder you suspect of leaking until the leak is fixed, or you have been told that using it is safe.

Transporting Propane

You may transport up to five twenty-pound propane cylinders in your vehicle. You must safely secure these cylinders in:

  • An upright position in the passenger compartment with the windows open,

  • A trunk with the lid propped open, or 

  • A ventilated box in the truck.

If you transport more than five twenty-pound propane cylinders, you must follow Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations.

Storing Propane

  • When your propane cylinder is not connected to a food truck, it is “in storage.” It is important that you store this propane safely. 

  • Never store propane cylinders indoors. For safety reasons, remove the propane cylinder from any appliance you need to store indoors.

  • Store propane cylinders upright and protect them against any kind of tampering, unauthorized movement, dropping or impact that could result in a leak or fire.

  • Safeguard stored propane cylinders with tamper-proof, vehicle-proof protection, such as in a locked cage or a fenced-in area. Do not store propane cylinders indoors, in a garage, close to operational heaters, or near smoking areas.

  • Keep propane cylinders at least one metre (three feet) from any building opening. You must also keep them three metres (10 feet) from any sidewalk or air intake. Keep them the same distance from any adjoining property occupied by schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields, or other points of gathering.

  • Do not store more than 25 twenty-pound propane cylinders together.

Generator Safety

  • Gasoline-powered generators are commonly used to power food truck appliances such as refrigerators. These generators can present a risk of gasoline fires, burns from hot engine parts, electrical shock and carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Have a licensed electrician install a generator to make sure the equipment and its installation follow local code.

  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded. Make sure a proper transfer switch is installed between the generator and the mobile kitchen equipment.

  • Do not overload the generator.

  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.

  • Turn off all appliances that the generator powers before you shut it down.

  • Never operate a generator inside your food truck.

  • Use carbon monoxide detectors to check air quality levels inside your food truck. Generators can produce high levels of deadly carbon monoxide very quickly.

  • Do not store extra gasoline for the generator in your food truck. Gasoline vapour is heavier than air and can travel invisibly along the floor, collecting in recesses or pooling. A pilot light, or another source of flame such as an electric spark, can ignite these vapours. Inhaling the gas can also cause headaches.

  • Before you re-fuel a generator, always turn it off and let it cool down.

  • Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation. Stay away from the muffler and other hot areas.

  • Always keep a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher near the generator.

  • All food truck operators and workers should be trained on how to safely use portable generators. Only trained and certified experts should install or maintain these generators.