Is your favorite street food safe?
Let's get something straight: WE LOVE STREET FOODS. People from all walks of life have a special love for street food because of its lip-smacking flavors. Certain Filipino street food favorites include kwek-kwek, barbeque, isaw, balut, green mango with bagoong, and mais, among others. These street foods can be found almost everywhere in the Philippines – around markets, schools, universities, factories, and even offices – they have easily blended into the urban scene, being very accessible to the majority of the Philippine population. It has been an integral part of the culture and the landscape of the Philippines.
The street food sector provides accessible, low-cost meals to the urban population. The sector's role has never been more important in today's climate. With the government-imposed lockdowns limiting personal and business interactions, many Filipinos are left with hardly anything. Most turn to street foods to minimize their expenses while fortunate individuals engage in selling them to gain extra income.
Although convenient and low-cost, street food can have potential health risks. According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) International Food Safety report, the potential risks of street food include (1) high levels of heavy metals, pesticide residue, toxic chemicals, and unapproved food additives; (2) bacteria such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Vibrio cholera; and (3) contaminants from dust and vehicular traffic. Improper food handling can cause food-related illnesses and death. However, these can be avoided by making use of proper food handling techniques as well as educating and training vendors.
The following measures based on the principles of the World Health Organization's "Five Keys to Safer Food" have been developed for the training of street food vendors:
Enjoy your favorite street foods by making sure that your trusted street vendors employ these food safety practices!
Reference: World Health Organization