By Oluwaseyi Omiyale
It is no news that street food are part of vital points which sometimes adorns a street both in the urban and rural areas ,you can count more than one or two food outlets also known as “MAMA PUT” or “MAISHAI”, and this comes with Disturbing aroma that speaks volume to your nose which as a result leaves you wanting for a plate or more either at day or night.
According to Wikipedia, Street food is a ready to eat food or drink sold by an hawker, or vendor , in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. It is often sold from a portable food booth ,foodcart or food truck and for immediate consumption. These meals vary from intercontinental to local dishes but one thing that comes to mind is the source, the safety and Hygiene practices of these meals and vendors.
These street food play an important Socio-economic roles in meeting food and nutritional requirements of city consumers at affordable prices to the lower and middle income people and they are appreciated for their unique flavor and convenience and also for the fact that they contribute to the nutritional status of the population. However, it is also recognized that majority of food vendors are poor, Undereducated and most importantly lack knowledge of safety and hygiene Practices, food handling, environment, mode of food display , food service and hand washing. To this end, Street food are perceived to be a major public health risk. This now brings us to the main question that ay puzzle your mind which is HOW CAN WE ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CONSUMERS FROM STREET FOOD ANDALSO SAFETY OF FOOD VENDORS
First on the side of food seller, all food handlers are to undergo food practice test by the Nigerian Institute of food science and Technology for the consumers to be sure that they are on safe ion hands; also at the consumers end, consumers should also examine the workstation, cooking utensils and even the servers of the meals they should check that they are clean and fit to work. If Consumers feel that the workplace looks dirty, unhygienic and unhealthy for food consumption, Consumers should also observe their system of waste disposal.
Secondly, Storage should be the utmost responsibility of food handlers of every class, consumers should look at the storage of food items , how well do they store their produce and showcase it to their prospective consumers, Is the storage of raw materials different from the storage of already processed meals and if any form of doubt arises, you can decide to pass.
Furthermore, One of the benefit of street food is that they produce meals that one can not ordinarily cook at home, so as the consumer the responsibility falls on you to critically or carefully observe food production in a particular restaurant, Example; If Possible and have you have the access to check the color of the oil used for frying, if the oil is cloudy, or has bits of debris in it, that is a sign that the oil is being re-used, which should not be especially if it is for mass production. Dirty pots too can also serve as a red flag from eating in a particular restaurant.
In Addition, avoid meals that are not thoroughly cooked because it contains various parasite strains that are known to wreak havoc in the human digestive system, you do not want to have stomach upset or visiting the Doctor as a result of a consuming a particular meal. Food handlers must also ensure that equipments , utensils and other containers should be made of materials which do not release toxic or hazards materials into the food especially when the food is acidic. Similarly, chopping boards, should be constructed and maintained so as to reduce the likelihood of containing foods with physical and biological hazards.
Meals should be held and transported in clean containers and protected from contamination through contact with unclean surfaces and exposure to undesirable hazard materials. The responsibility of safety of street food dawns on both the consumer and the vendor as a have their own role to play. The more both vendors and Consumers are educated and the more they know about issues such as nutrition and safety, the more they will be interested in having the business as clean and the products as healthy as possible.