The video went viral on social media. Is it true that street food in India is unhygienic?


KOMPAS.com – Culinary food that comes from street food or street food in India attracts the attention of netizens.

Numerous posts about culinary delights and the preparation of street food from India went viral on social media such as TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.

The seller cooks food without gloves, accepts money with the same hand and leaves it face up.

Some netizens think that the video of street vendors in India looks like they don’t pay attention to cleanliness and hygiene.




So is it true that street food in India is so dirty that tourists are not recommended to eat there?

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Indian customs

According to the Hindustan Times (May 4, 2007), the then Indian Ministry of Agriculture announced that up to 85 percent of contaminated food was found in street stalls in Calcutta and other areas of India.

The committee also noted that hygiene and safety are not a priority when it comes to street food in India.

Meanwhile, the local Public Health Association said only 53 percent of Indians wash their hands with soap after defecation.

At least 38 percent wash their hands before eating and only 30 percent wash their hands before cooking.

This poses a risk of contamination of E-Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas bacteria in food.

This bacteria can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, typhoid fever, food poisoning, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

On the other hand, street vendors who struggle to find customers from restaurants find it difficult to implement cleanliness in the food they sell.

Unhygienic cooking utensils

Research by the Hygiene Council and Reckitt Benckiser, quoted from The Hindu Business Line (11/15/2012), found that the cloth used to wipe away dirt while cooking is the dirtiest item.

Cutting boards, knives, and unwashed fruits and vegetables are also dirty and even potentially contaminated items.

This situation is unfortunate as the Indian government considers street food as a local and exotic food that can become a tourist attraction.

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Not all of them are dangerous

Pexels/Saveurs Secrets

Typical Indian Pav Bhaji food.

Even though typical Indian street food is known to have unclean cooking methods, not all Indian culinary delicacies are dangerous to consume.

According to The Guardian (11/26/2014), laboratory tests were conducted on a street snack called pav-bhaji. This typical Mumbai food is vegetable curry eaten with bread.

This meal is prepared by a man cooking outdoors without wearing gloves or a hat. He was also drenched in sweat.

The curry was packaged in a plastic bag while the bread was wrapped in local newspaper.

The test results show that the food contains no bacteria and is safe to consume, despite being close to food safety limits.

However, it is important to note that this test does not test the air conditioning, cooking packaging or cooking utensils.

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The Indian government acted

Indian street food, which is known to be unclean and harmful to health, can discourage tourists from trying it. In fact, this is a form of advertising for tourists.

Due to this condition, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of India are encouraging local governments to set up 100 hygiene snack vendors in 100 regions across the country.

As reported by NDTV Food (214/2023), the central government provides financial support to every seller to produce food hygienically and safely.

To combat this problem, culinary training programs, third-party hygiene assessments, and food processing certifications are also implemented.

Also read: The Nipah virus is spreading in India. Will it reach Indonesia?

Tips for choosing street food in India

Although food safety practices continue to be implemented in India, tourists also need to know how to make safe food choices when visiting the country.

According to a quote from CNN Travel (02/12/2019), here are a number of tips for choosing safe food in India.

  • Choose foods that are cooked in hot oil or slow-grilled
  • Avoid yogurt, which is easily damaged by heat
  • Make sure the water source is clean or use bottled water
  • Choose a sauce that is hot and cooked through
  • Choose whole fruits instead of sliced ​​fruits
  • Avoid eating meat sold by street vendors
  • Avoid using white paper and recycled newspapers as food packaging
  • Choose a vendor with a long line because the food is guaranteed to be fresh

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