Testing the hygiene of Indian street snacks

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia – Be it morning, afternoon or evening, on the streets of Mumbai there is always a plate of fried food, mashed potatoes called Vada-Pav served with green chutney, or a bowl of Pav Bhaji, a spicy mixture of crushed tomatoes and vegetables, decorated with pieces of butter, onions and a little lemon.

These delicious foods cause tourists to ignore the hygiene of these appetizing foods. Like most street vendors in Asia, street vendors in Mumbai typically do not wear gloves when preparing food. Money is then exchanged with the same hand.

According to The Guardian, only 53 percent of Indians wash their hands with soap after defecation, 38 percent before eating and only 30 percent before preparing food, according to the Public Health Association in India.


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Various types of bacteria such as coliform, E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas can enter food.

The bacteria found in human and animal feces are the cause of various infections, such as diarrhea, typhoid, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, pneumonia.

These bacteria can multiply quickly when foods are stored in moist, warm conditions and can enter the human body when vegetables or meat are not washed properly.

Fecal contamination can occur during food preparation. Bacteria can also enter food through flies, cash exchanged through infected hands, or contaminated water.

Curious about the cleanliness of Mumbai's street food, Sana Merchant, a tourist writing for the Guardian's Citizen Reporting Program, took food samples to test.

He went to a 3 x 3 meter food kiosk located on a busy street, exposed to gusts of wind and dust. To the right of the kiosk is the busy train station and to the left is the bus stop.

Every 10 minutes, the bus blows fumes onto pots of cooked pav-bhaji and vada-pav dishes stored in the open area opposite the public toilets.

Seven days later, the food control results from the laboratory were available. The results are amazing, these foods are suitable for consumption. The tourist contacted the laboratory for an explanation.

The researchers said coliform bacteria, E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas were all missing. It also said that yeast and mold were present in acceptable quantities. However, they warned that air, containers or plates would not be tested.

“It crosses the limit, but it does not cross the limit, so it is safe to consume,” the researcher said.

It seems like we're relieved to know the food isn't contaminated, but those are just the results of a sample from just one food stall. The Indian government itself has issued numerous regulations on the importance of maintaining food hygiene.