V Regulatory aspects of street foods
16. Control of street foods mainly calls for two types of legal provisions. The first is the issue of a license to operate and may include restrictions on the type of food to be sold and on the location where they may be sold. The second concerns enforcement of specific measures to protect the consumer against health hazards and commercial fraud. The meeting strongly endorsed the need for transparency in the development as well as enforcement of regulations concerning street foods, and the full involvement of the vendor and consumer representatives in the whole process. The issuance of a license which could be valid for a period of one year (unless otherwise revoked for some legitimate reason) would go a long way toward bringing about a measure of confidence to vendors. This measure of security could motivate them to improve their food handling practices through introduction of appropriate and simple practices and technologies suiting their specific operation. It is desirable that a single designated office within the local authority be responsible for all aspects of licensing of street food vendors.
17. When it comes to food safety, many countries still did not have specific regulations on street foods. The meeting recommended a scientific approach in the development of such regulations, keeping in mind the special characteristics of street foods such as traditional technologies, low levels of investment and restricted access to municipal facilities such as water and waste disposal. The meeting was of the opinion that codes of practice could be more appropriate for street food type of operations, rather than the traditional rules and regulations. Such codes, generally recommended by national food control authorities, could be further modified as necessary by the local authorities to suit the local situation. Codes of practice recommended by the Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission could provide useful guidance in this area.
18. In dealing with a complex sector such as street foods, which has socio-economic as well as nutritional implications, it was considered necessary for training to continue to be an integral part of the regulatory approach. Thus, training of inspectors in street food inspection techniques and vendors in good food handling practices was considered essential. The information so imparted could be both general and product specific so as to give rise to appropriate interventions for improvement. Training of vendors prior to issuance of license, though desirable, depended upon the availability of local facilities, and may not be possible in all cases.
19. Based on the latest thinking on the subject, the meeting felt that compulsory medical examination of prospective vendors may not necessarily be an essential condition for the issuance of license. Where carried out, the limitation of medical examinations would need to be recognized.