You must wonder if eating the cuisine available at the most incredible street food booths is reasonable and safe. As we go by, we are enticed by street food's scents and sights. Despite our desires, many of us are sceptical about whether it is safe to consume.
There's no reason why street food can't be consumed as long as basic cleanliness standards are maintained. While street food is undoubtedly excellent and a great way to immerse yourself in local culture, we sometimes wonder if it is safe. Simply said, all street food enterprises must be aware of food hygiene rules in order to serve food safely to customers. Let's have a deeper look at the parameters of how street food can be conceived.
What is street food?
Street food vendors sell ready-to-eat food and drink cooked and/or served on the street rather than inside cafés or restaurants.
With the economy being difficult, unemployment high, and the need for cheaper food options expanding in urban areas, street sellers have seen a substantial increase in several parts of the world. Street food, in particular, has become an essential aspect of food delivery in both developing and developed countries, particularly during midday meals.
Factors affecting the choice of the stalls
When inspecting the cleanliness of a street food station, look at the workstation, utensils, crockery, and the server. If you believe the place looks unclean or the seller appears unconcerned about their personal cleanliness. In that case, eating there is probably not a good idea.
Food must be prepared and stored at specific temperatures in order to be safe. All food outlets, from the most expensive restaurants to street food booths, must comply with these temperatures. Incorrect cooking and holding temperatures are incredibly harmful and can lead to various issues, including food poisoning.
Bacteria need warmth to multiply, and they multiply quickly in temperatures between 20°C and 50°C. To prevent bacteria from multiplying in food, food handlers must keep hot food above 63°C or cold food below 5°C. Temperatures above 5°C and below 63°C are considered the danger zone. If hot food cannot be kept at 63°C or above, the vendor must discard it after two hours. If the temperature of cold food rises above 8°C, they must dispose of it within four hours.
To avoid cross-contamination, raw and cooked foods must be stored separately. If you discover raw chicken stored with ready-to-eat meals, avoid the stand. Salads or cheese, for example.
Raw and ready-to-eat meals should be served from separate counters and stored in separate containers by distinct food handlers. Don't eat there if you have any suspicions about the food being tainted.
One obvious advantage of street food is that you can frequently watch the vendor preparing the dish in front of you. As a consequence, you can check if they cooked your meal long enough and if they followed proper handling methods. This includes not just meat and fish but also fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables might harbour hazardous pathogens. Therefore the vendor should thoroughly wash them.
China reused gutter oil in street food
Max Fisher of The Washington Post obtained a video from RFA which shows a woman in Shenzhen scraping slop from agutter to be processed with other animal fat. The oil finally finds its way to "street vendors and hole-in-the-wall eateries,"where it is used as "recycled cooking oil."
According to specialists quoted by RFA, gutter oil accounts for one-tenth of all cooking oil consumed in China. Apart from being revolting, the oil is reported to contain carcinogens and other poisons. (Mamta Badkar, 2013, business insider India)
Indian street food stories of poor hygiene
New research by the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa (IHM) analysed samples from prominent Delhi street food establishments and allegedly discovered traces of faecal matter in golgappas, momos, and a few other treats! In addition, scientists discovered a massive amount of E.coli bacteria (as reported by a popular daily). E.Coli can be found in contaminated foods such as street food, chopped fruits, and raw vegetables. High temperatures aggravate the condition by multiplying these germs, making you more susceptible to illness ".
WHO statistical data on food safety
2015 WHO report on the estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases presented the first-ever global and sub-regional estimates of disease burden caused by 31 foodborne agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and chemicals), highlighting that more than 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses and 420 000 deaths could occur in a year. Foodborne illnesses disproportionately affect disadvantaged individuals, particularly children under the age of five, with the lowest burden in low- and middle-income nations.
Risk of street food
While street food has become an essential source of fast, low-cost meals for the urban poor, its health concerns may exceed its advantages. Because street food has frequently been linked to visitors' diarrhoea, changes in the safety of street food are both public health and a tourism issue.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) International Food Safety study released in June 2010, the following are potential concerns of street food:
Toxic chemicals, pesticide residue, heavy metals, and banned food additives such as textile colours are present in high concentrations.
Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureas, Clostridium perfringens, and Vibrio cholera are pathogenic microorganisms.
Contaminants may also be introduced in areas where dust and motor traffic contribute to elevated pollution levels.
Another study, Keeping up Appearances: Perceptions of Street Food Safety in Urban Kumasi, Ghana (September 2008), found that customers prefer food affordability and accessibility over food safety. They depend on simple risk-aversion tactics that evaluate the neatness and appearance of the street vendor's business without respect for food safety measures.
The sign is in the oil
The hue of the oil might indicate how safe and hygienic the food at any roadside kiosk is. Know the warning signs: if the colour is a bit hazy or you detect leftovers (debris) in the oil, chances are it has been warmed and reused several times. These are dead giveaways that the oil is completely unsanitary and dirty. Stay as far away from such meals as possible, no matter how appealing they appear.
avoid half cooked food
Avoid eating any food that has not been completely cooked since it may include parasite strains known to disrupt the human digestive system.