Experts stress on uniform guidelines for street food vendors

If everything goes according to the plan, street food vendors across the country will have to follow uniform guidelines.

Health professionals from World Health Organisation (WHO), civic body authorities from parts of the country, authorities of Food Safety and Standards Authorities of India (FSSAI), Foundation for Community Support and Development (FCSD) and politicians, believe that guidelines to ensure quality food is essential for countries like India.

Experts from across the country were in the city to discuss and formulate guidelines to enhance safety and quality of street food. The FCSD and Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), in association with WHO, had convened a consultative meeting at here on Thursday.

At the inaugural ceremony, National Professional Officer (Nutrition) of WHO India Dr Rachita Gupta said the concept must be promoted to serve healthy food items as a majority of the people in the country depend on street food.

“Street food largely contributes to nutrition. But often, it poses health hazards due to unhygienic condition of shops and use of sub-standard cooking oil and other products. Simple preventative measures can make food healthier and nutritious,” she said.

FSSAI Advisor (Standards) Kumar Anil said time is appropriate to draft guidelines which suit every region in the country under Swacch Bharath campaign. He said educating vendors can solve many problems.
Anil also asked the civic authorities to circulate pamphlets containing safety measures, ‘do’s and don’ts in their respective regional languages. 

Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduation Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) Director Dr S C Parija said that unhealthy street food is causing nearly 1/3rd of communicable diseases in the country. Due to contaminated food and water, many people suffer from diseases. But, the food should be made safe not only for consumption in India but, also for exports, he felt.

“The guidelines should be simple. But, the authorities must ensure that it will be implemented in an effective manner. The society, administrators and politicians’ support is essential in developing and implementing the guidelines,” he said.

West Bengal Chief Advisor for the Public Health Engineering Department Indira Chakravarty said, “Instead of criminalising vendors, we should educate them to serve good food. It is inevitable to protect street vendors for the benefit of common people.”

Mayor B L Bhyrappa, Dep­uty Mayor Vanitha Prasanna, Commissioner C G Betsurmath, Kolkatta Mayor Atin Ghosh and MLA Tanveer Sait were present in meeting.

Draft guidelines

rofessionals in the health sector, food safety and civic bodies came up with the ‘Mysuru Declaration on Street Food’, to enhance safety and quality of street food, on Thursday, during the consultation meet on ‘Guideline of street vendors’ convened by the Foundation for Community Support and Development (FCSD), World Health Organisation, and Mysuru City Corporation.

The declaration was drafted on the basis of collective opinion of experts from across the country. The guidelines are made suitable for all regions in the country and value addition to the declaration can be done by local bodies, if needed, said, Chief Advisor of Health Engineering, West Bengal, Indira Chakravarty, who was a part of the meet.

Considering that street food is one of the most essential nutritional support for the underprivileged groups of society, the declaration suggests ensuring that nutrition is retained without any loss (caused due to infection or any other reason), the taste and freshness, keeping in mind the regional differences. It also suggests not to render the city dirty, she said.

In addition, the declaration has suggested to encourage vendors to improve the food quality, safety and selling mechanism. It asks the authorities to be strict, but to have a positive attitude and support the entire system (vendors and customs), she said.

The draft urges the authorities to develop an easily implementable guideline with category-wise differentiation, grading of foods so that the vendors develop an attitude to reach a higher grade.

Create supportive awareness and impart training, motivation programmes for all stakeholders — vendors, customers, authorities (municipality, police etc) NGOs and institutions — encouraging use of modern technology like solar system, are some of the recommendations.

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