The term “street foods” describes a wide range of ready-to-eat foods and beverages sold and some times prepared in public places, notably at streets. Like fast foods, the final preparation of street foods occurs when the customer orders the meal which can be consumed where it is purchased or taken away. Street foods and fast foods are low in cost when compared with restaurant meals and offer an attractive alternative to home-cooked food. In spite of these similarities, street food and fast food enterprises differ in variety, environment, marketing techniques and ownership.
Foods that are served to the customers should be “clean” and “safe”, absence of poisonous substances or contaminants and free from spoilage. If foods are not clean and safe health hazards like headache, stomach pain, vomiting, giddiness and anemia may also occur. Due to the modernization many school children and adults skip their breakfast and they prefer to eat street foods or fast foods or convenient foods. There is mistaken assumption that food contamination is inevitable in street foods. Yet millions of people depend on this source of nutrition. Vendors knew that consumers watch the way food is prepared and notice whether the work area and vendor’s hands and cloths are clean or tidy. The vendors have to satisfy the customers with improved practices in the preparation of foods learned through training in nutrition and hygiene.
Since, all categories of people from different socio-economic sectors purchased the street foods; the street foods should not only be cheap but also hygienic and rich in nutrition. The investigators with their nutrition knowledge had an urge to study the nutrition knowledge of the vendors, whether the foods prepared are nutritional sound or not? Are they preparing and serving food hygienically? Etc. Disease could be easily spread through food, water and the place of sales, how it is packed etc. and these questions made the investigators to take up this study. Hence, the investigators were interested to know the answers for the above said questions. Hence, studying microbial quality, nutritional knowledge and food hygienic practices among street food vendors importance at this hour and this paper aims to analyze this.
To study the nutritional knowledge and food hygienic practices prevailing among the street food vendors. 200 vendors in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu, India were selected by using purposive random sampling techniques. The investigators met the vendors and collected the details. Microbial analysis, food adulteration test were done for food samples. Microbial load for the major street foods like bhajji, vada, samosa varieties, roasted corn etc., were tested. Raw materials used for the street foods were collected such as dhal, salt, sugar, oil, pepper, turmeric and chilly powder and there were analyzed for food adulteration.
The street food vendors were poor in hygienic practices in food preparation, serving, handling and storing. They were also poor in their nutritional knowledge. It can be concluded that as there is an urgent need for disseminating the knowledge about food safety and disease prevention, nutrition education is the need of the hour. Measures are suggested to improve the dwindling standards of the street food units. This study implies the need of the following measures to be adopted for hygienic food preparation by the street vendors, they are, license must be obtained by the street food vendors and the foods should be frequently inspected by the agencies, nutritionists should take the in-charge of disseminating awareness on hygienic practices, nutrition and health so that it will help in the preparation of nutritious foods.
Colleges and other educational institutions also should take part in creating awareness about the street foods, government can encourage the vendors on improving their business by availing loan facilities and the sources of information must be increased to improve the nutrition and hygienic knowledge of the street food vendors. If this will be able to happen I believe that there will be less people having different kinds of sicknesses in the world and less hardships especially to the less fortunate that can’t afford to buy expensive food and medicines for those sicknesses. People need to be educated with the proper food safety hygiene and sanitation to not suffer these illnesses.
I have learned that people need to gain more knowledge about Food safety hygiene and sanitation. If all have this knowledge there would be a better environment for everyone. Health is the most important thing in a person’s life, that’s why we should pay more attention in food hygiene. We should teach those around us the proper food hygiene especially vendors and or those people who sell street foods around the corner. In doing this, every person would have a cleaner environment to live in and also will have a healthier life, not only for this generation but also for the health of the future generation.
We should make cleanliness a part and habit in our daily lives. Street foods should not just be only clean, but should also have nutrition. There would be no sense in eating clean food that doesn’t contain any nutrients in it. Having clean and nutritious food around us would help our bodies work in a better manner and would give us the right and enough energy for the whole day in our daily activities. We should always think before eat anything from the corner. Eating clean and nutritious food means having a clean and healthier lifestyle, and I believe that is the key to having a good body inside and out and for us to have a longer life.