Roadside food is any food you buy from the popular “iya basira” or “aunty jamila” just by the road side or along your street, how healthy do you think these foods are? Do you consider the quality of raw material being used to prepare the food? Well, research has shown that as long as it is ready to eat, most people wouldn’t bother if the processes involved in the processing of the food is hygienic or not.
Here are 4 reasons why you should stop taking roadside food.
- Unhygienic environment: At the popular roundabout-mokola roundabout in Ibadan, there is a place where snacks are being made and sold just by the roadside. Directly at the back of the food vendors lies a slum with dirt and stagnant water. I wonder how people manage to eat food made in a creepy, dirty environment, where lots of bacteria and viruses can easily come in contact with the food through air and other materials used for cooking. Bacillus cerus, Clostridium perfringens, and other numerous foodborne microroganisms resident in the soil and dust can contaminate food. Airborne contaminants and toxins can settle on the food in which constant consumption will overtime lead to complications.
- Contaminated water: You shouldn’t be surprised that the quality of water used in preparing a lot of these roadside food are not of good quality, as good clean and potable water might be difficult to get or afford. As a matter of fact, the water may be contaminated with pathogens. Contaminated water may be used to wash utensils, wash the food and even prepare it. A lot of pathogenic microorganisms are capable of breeding in water and will survive even high temperatures (i.e after cooking or boiling) example is the Camphylobacter jejuni, E coli, and Salmonella typhi.
- Poor food storage: Already prepared food might be stored in polythene bags that are not properly cleaned, giving a chance for pathogenic organisms to thrive. Some food vendors don’t even cover the food at all, leaving flies to perch on them while dusts and particles have a nice time on the food. Microorganisms such as E coli, Camphylobacter jejuni, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, and many other foodborne pathogens, will contaminate the food as soon as they have access to it. Improper handling and care of raw materials used to prepare food can also get contaminated with food borne pathogens, heavy metals or toxins.
- Personal hygiene of food vendors: Many at times food vendors are usually looking unkept and dirty. They lack basic hygiene, you find them letting out indiscriminately, sputum and phlegm that may directly contaminate food. Microorganisms such as Staphylococus aureus, VibrIo cholerae, Salmonella typhi, can easily be transferred to food when there is lack of personal hygiene by the food vendor. Some food vendors handles hair, dust, feaces and without proper cleaning, still handle food (cross contamination). Some foodborne pathogens that are harmful outside the body, when they come in contact with food and we eat them they become dangerous to our health.
- Quality of raw materials: Yes, your food might be well prepared, free from any potential foodborne pathogens and even well presented, unfortunately, it might be of poor quality as a result of the materials used. It is no news that many food vendors in a bid to make more profit, will rather go for low quality raw materials than good quality raw materials.
When you stop patronizing roadside food vendors, you reduce your risk of getting food borne illness as well as the cost of treatment.