Food trucks rapped over dubious hygiene

The current craze for street food in Switzerland received a blow on Wednesday when authorities in Geneva revealed that many of the food trucks participating in a recent street food festival in the city ducked rules relating to hygiene and cleanliness.

Food trucks rapped over dubious hygiene
Photo: Mack Male/File

The Geneva Street Food Fest, held in central Geneva on September 18th-20th, saw 56 food trucks cater for an estimated 30,000 visitors over the three days.

But inspections carried out during the festival by Geneva’s Service of Consumption and Veterinary Affairs (SCAV) showed that 28 of the 46 trucks inspected did not meet legal standards.

In a statement, SCAV said many of the trucks had broken federal law by not telling SCAV about their business in advance.

Inspectors also noted many problems relating to the cleanliness of equipment and food storage facilities.

Lab tests on 34 food samples sent for analysis revealed that  35 percent didn’t conform to food standards.

Twelve samples did not meet legal requirements and contained too many bacteria, pointing to insufficient hygiene.

Among them, two food products were judged not fit to eat.

In its statement, SCAV said it would dish out fines in the most serious cases.

Like any food outlet, food trucks are obliged to meet sufficient hygiene standards, put checks in place to monitor food preparation and tell cantonal authorities about their business, said the SCAV.

In response, the festival’s co-organizer Pascale Clemann told The Local: “In our conditions of participation we mention that most likely they [the inspectors] will come by and will check.

“That’s something we encourage, in the sense that we think it’s a good thing for the food trucks to be controlled because they should be up to the norm.”

Every truck that attended the festival was already trading in the area beforehand, said Clemann.

“It’s unfortunate they pinpoint us as a festival because the food trucks should be up to the norm [anyway],” she said.

Street food has grown hugely in popularity in Switzerland over the past few years.

Geneva’s first street food festival followed similar initiatives springing up in Lausanne and Bern earlier this year, and Zurich last year.

A year ago food trucks were allowed to trade on public land in Geneva for the first time, a scheme that has proved very popular with food fans in the lakeside city.

The Geneva Street Food Fest is planning a second edition next May, said Clemann.

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Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival

Basel Tattoo kicks off today, running until 20 July in the north-western Swiss city. But what is it? And why do Scottish bagpipers show up every year?

Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival
Photo: Basel Tattoo
What is it? 
Basel Tattoo is a show and parade bringing together military music bands from around the world.
How did it start? 
Organizers had the idea for the event after a Basel-based military band performed several times at the Edinburgh Tattoo, the world’s most famous event of its kind. The first edition of Basel Tattoo was held in 2006, attracting an impressive 38,000 people to the courtyard of a military barracks in Kleinbasel.  
So it’s a big deal? 
It is now. These days it’s sponsored by the Swiss federal defense department and over the years has become bigger and bolder, attracting more than one million spectators over all its shows. More than 60,000 tickets have been sold to this year's shows so far.
What happens during the Tattoo? 
The daily two-hour show includes around 1,000 participants from all over the world. This year’s event features the Hellenic Navy Band from Greece, dancers and acrobats from China, a police motorcycle acrobatic troupe from Germany and a Dutch orchestra. And of course, given its Scottish links, spectators will also enjoy music from ‘bagrock’ band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, the International Highland Dancers and The Massed Pipes and Drums, a marching band formed of 200 players from around the world, an annual highlight of the show. Add to that an appearance from America’s Got Talent contestant Johnny Manuel and you can’t say Basel Tattoo doesn’t offer something for everyone. 
Photo: Basel Tattoo
What else goes on? 
Each year the Tattoo also stages a parade through the streets of Basel, featuring the international marching bands who are part of The Massed Pipes and Drums, along with other groups. This year’s parade takes place on Saturday 13 July from 2pm and includes pipers and drummers from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the UK, South Africa, Canada and several other countries, as well as local groups from Basel and elsewhere in Switzerland.
Worth a visit? 
Absolutely, though you’ll be one of a large crowd – some 120,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the parade. After all, Basel residents are quite partial to a spot of marching – each year there are several parades as part of the Fasnacht festival, when people even drag themselves out of bed at 4am for a night-time parade. 
Anything else going on? 
Kids will love paying a visit to the military barracks on 20 July for the Children’s Day, when they can meet some of the pipers and dancers, ask questions and try out musical instruments. Best of all, it’s free.
How do I buy tickets for the show?
Find out more about the event and buy your tickets here.