There is no night or day for street food as you can always find a plate of deep-fried, mashed-potato patties or vada-pav being served with green chutney; a steaming hot bowl of pav-bhaji served with buttered pavs, or a crispy masala dosa, and you can always finish all this off with a tall glass of falooda.
Do we actually bother to notice if the vendor has worn gloves or even washed his hands, or if the vessels are clean? The aroma and taste of street food overpowers our senses and we just ignore everything else.
Presence of Bacteria in street food
According to the Public Health Association, just 53% of Indians wash their hands with soap after defecating; 38% do so before eating and only 30% before preparing food.
Bacteria is transmitted in food, like coliform, E coli, salmonella , shigella, staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas, are the major causes of diarrhea, typhoid, food poisoning, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
These bacteria are present in the faeces of humans and animals. They grow quickly if the food is kept in moist, warm conditions, and can enter human bodies if the vegetables or meat are not washed properly or there is faecal contamination during food production or handling.
Bacteria can also reach your food through flies, exchange of cash with infected hands or through contaminated water.
Let us look at some of the popular street food.
1. Vada Pav– It cannot be considered to be healthy food as as the pav is made of maida (refined flour) and may be stale. In addition, pav bakers use potassium bromate (IN924a) as a flour improver. IN924a is a carcinogen and has been banned in most countries of the world. The potato vada is deep fried in re-used oil which may have been used over and over again. As these are usually vegetable oils, the PUFA in them oxidises to form cancer causing chemicals and trans fat. There are chances that flies and other insects may have sat on the food and transmitted germs to it thus spreading diseases.
2. Pav Bhaji– The pav is made of maida (refined flour) and may be stale. In addition, pav bakers use potassium bromate (IN924a) as a flour improver. IN924a is a carcinogen and has been banned in most countries of the world.
3. Bhel Puri-It is usually made from uncooked ingredients and hence is commonly contaminated, it can cause gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, indigestion and typhoid, Hepatitis A and C.
4. Indian Chinese street food– As the meats and chicken used in this food are kept unrefrigerated by the hawkers for long times, they are usually stale and not safe to eat. In addition, excessive amounts of mono sodium glutamate are used by almost all these vendors.
5. Pani Puri– The main component of this food is the paani which is not boiled and is usually highly contaminated. The vendor usually prepares the paani puri with his bare hands which makes it very unsafe for consumption and can cause typhoid, Cholera, gastroenteritis, hepatitis or food poisoning.
At foodnetindia we encourage you to only eat street food that is prepared by vendors practicing cleanliness and hygiene and wearing gloves and also the vessels must be clean. It is very difficult to find safe street food in India and we ask you to avoid it and prepare your favourite street food at home.
At foodnetindia we urge the government to regulate the street food vendors with strict laws so that they will practice better hygiene and serve tasty and healthy street food to the public.