Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25-29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts
Background and Objective:
Street food vending continues to expand as a source of affordable food and beneficial economic activity in developing countries. At the same time street foods have been the cause of outbreaks of foodborne diseases worldwide. The objective of this study is to examine the health risks of street food vending and recommend actions to strengthen the role of street food vendors to provide wholesome and safe food.
Literature review; observation of street food vendors’ hygiene practices in major cities of developing countries (Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Bangkok, New Delhi, Mexico City, etc.); review of a survey of 200 food vendors and interview of health officers in charge of food safety in South Africa.
Very few street vendors apply some hygiene principles of food protection during preparation, storage and sale. The common hygiene fault practices observed were related to washing hands, utensils and pots in the same water container; drying hands and utensils with the same towel; sneezing, coughing, smoking and spitting near food; not wearing rubber gloves, hair cover and apron; and not removing jewellery while preparing food. Where food stalls are not provided, food was exposed to the sun, dust, wind, smoke, flies and dirty surfaces with a risk of cross contamination. Facilities such as running water, toilets, drainage and garbage disposal were non existent at most of the sites for use by the vendors. There was evidence of bacterial contamination after cooking where few samples examined.
In order to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases, developing countries should strengthen the role of street food vendors by providing training, guidelines, legislation and infrastructure. There is a need for collaboration among health authorities, municipalities, local government, the community and the associations of street food vendors to achieve this objective.