Authorities sit over sale of ‘unsafe’ street food
Failure of concerned authorities to prevent sale of 'unsafe' food on streets in the summer capital poses risk to people's health.
Street vendors have set up kiosks on roadsides in various areas in Srinagar to sell fast food and traditional Kashmiri snacks.
Experts said children in the age group of 4 to 12 years are mainly affected by unsafe street food as they mostly take it after school hours.
People accuse authorities of turning a blind eye to the unabated sale of unsafe street food putting the health of public at risk.
In absence of any monitoring, Kashmiri traditional snacks including Nadr Munje, Paratha are being prepared in unhygienic conditions and are usually sold at road sides. These snacks remain uncovered and are exposed to flies and dust, causing food borne pathogens.
Experts said the street food affects the health of eaters especially of children. They said the ill-effects include headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, rapid, fluttering heartbeats and chest pain.
Experts said that the unhygienic food comprising bacteria and other microorganisms affect the stomach of children. "The stomach of children doesn't have much stamina to fight with these microorganisms. We have lot of cases where the stomach of children was badly affected due to these unsafe street food and beverages," they said.
"Major sources contributing to microbial contamination are the places of preparation, utensils for cooking and serving, raw materials, time and temperature abuse of cooked foods and the personal hygiene of vendors," said Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan, president Doctors Association Kashmir.
"Various studies have identified the sources of food safety issues involved in street foods to be microorganism belonging to the genus Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Clostridium, Vibrio, Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella," he informed.
Dr Mir Mushtaq, said that food colors, chemicals and other additives "often creep up not just in traditional snacks but in other street food like Biryani."
"Though most of the people are aware about this ugly truth, yet most of us choose to ignore it. Are we opening ourselves to lifelong diseases by doing so? Sometimes, a person feels the street food is safe as he has no knowledge about its ingredients. It is job of concerned authorities to ensure no poison is sold in the name of food to consumers," he said.
Hilal Ahmad Mir, Assistant Commissioner, Drug and Food Control Organization (DFCO), (Food Safety Wing), said that more than 50 Challans have been prepared against those preparing food in unhygienic conditions.
"The adulteration has come down and there may be exceptional cases now. We are active to ensure public health remains safe after relishing these foods," he said.