SPOKANE, Wash. – On a hot summer day, there may be no sweeter way to cool off than with an ice cream cone. But, how do you know if the truck driving through your neighborhood is safe?
"I'm sure the majority of ice cream trucks are fine, but we wanted to have a friendly face for that very reason, and we get a lot of compliments for that," said Katy Byrnes, the co-owner of Sweet And Savory Ice Cream. "We're clean, and we usually have a child or friendly dog with us."
Byrnes and her husband started their ice cream company about three years ago, and drive a vending truck during the summer months. In that time, she says she's heard from a lot of people – both in person and on the Sweet And Savory Facebook page – who have concerns about how ice cream trucks are governed.
The City of Spokane says the only regulation is that ice cream truck vendors must apply for what's called an "Itinerant Vendor Permit" – essentially a business license for a traveling vendor. The application is simple; it's less than a full page, and it costs about $30 a year.
The Spokane Regional Health District says a food handler's permit is not required because the ice cream is commercially pre-packaged. If an ice cream truck scoops ice cream, or otherwise comes in contact with the product, then the vendor would be required to have a food handler's permit.
But, you may be surprised to hear ice cream truck drivers are not required to pass a background check, although individual employers may choose to run them anyway. And Byrnes says local trucks aren't just selling ice cream.
"We've had people questioning if we sell certain other items out of the truck, because we know other trucks in Spokane do," she told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.
Namely, Byrnes says she's asked about marijuana and illegal drugs.
Remember, the majority of ice cream trucks are perfectly safe. However, if you ever feel uncomfortable, stay with your child and ask to see the driver's business license.
If you believe a vendor is breaking the law of putting someone in danger, call police.
To learn more about Spokane's "Itinerant Vendor Permit," or to apply click here