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Improving food safety in Bangladesh

Street Food Safety Week in Safe Food Upazila -Delduar


01/01/2016

Delduar Upazila Parishad and UBINIG have been working together in collaboration with other stake holders for implementation of “Delduar Safe Food Upazila”. Awareness creation for street food vendors is one of the activities of this initiative. Accordingly, “Street Food Safety Week” was observed during 12-18 December 2015 with the involvement of the local street food vendors. For the vendors it was more of an issue of selling the food items maintaining safety. But most of the time they failed because of lack of knowledge and motivation about food safety. A number of activities were undertaken to inform and motivate the street food vendors using folk songs using pictures, posters, leaflets during meetings and discussions.

Observance of Street Food Safety Week in hat-bazar- Delduar hat , Lauhati hat, Putiajani hat, Fazilhati hat, Fazilhati hat, and Nallapara hat

Most of the people walk to the hat or come by boat, or bicycle. The local people buy and sell produces in the hat. In addition, some business men from outside also come to the hat to sell their produce such as pulses, mustard, wheat, spices, etc.

Generally the local people from nearby villages come in the market for buying and selling rice, wheat, pulses, vegetables, ducks and chickens. In some markets cows and goats are also traded

The selling of different prepared food items in the weekly markets in Delduar Upazila was observed. These are the poor people who sell prepared food on tin container, tin dish, polythene, and in big trays. Some of them cover these food items with paper or polythene. These foods are sold in densely populated places. Most of the foods are sold keeping in open containers without any cover. Pyaju, Jilapi, ruti (bread), singara, and big chapri are prepared in the road sides. These foods are served with bare hands. The open foods are contaminated with dust, dirt, flies, insects and animals.

Types of open foods:

The open food items included chanachur, goja, nimki, chinir tana,bundia, muri makhano, peanut, fried chick pea, fried pea, narkel khaja, chola vuna, pyaju, jilapi, singara, gulguli ( wheat flour and sugar) ,biscuit, kot koti, chips, ruti, pulse, labra, fried egg, chapri, batasha, misri, curd, tiler tana, gurer tana, danadar, shandesh, chom chom, fuska, potato chop, egg bal,vegetable chop, shrimp ball, halim, beguni, patali, and varieties of herbal medicines etc.

Food tray and containers:

Varieties of trays and containers including tin container, polythene bag, tin plate, aluminum plate, aluminum dish, steel dish, bamboo basket, melamine plate, spoon, earthen pot, plastic bowl, etc are used for serving, saving and storing food items.

Customers of food:

Majority of customers of these foods are the farmers visiting the market for buying and selling different products. In addition students, parents and members of other professions also buy the food items. Some of the customers are carrying the food home and others are eating in front of the shop. Especially the children, students, youth are eating fried chick, pea, fuska, singara, pyaju and jilapi in front of the shops. The farmers those are coming to the market for selling crops and other produce also eat ruti, dal, chapri, labra and fried egg.

Cleanliness:

The vendors are serving the food items with bare hands. The food items are continuously contaminated with dust and dirt as because the shops are located near the main road. Glass and plate are washed in the dirty water.

Serving food:

The dried foods are sold in paper packets, polythene packets, polythene bag, etc. Fuska is served on un-clean plates. Plates are washed in used water. The same bucket of water is used for washing from morning to evening.

Discussion with street food vendors and the merchant society leaders:

Discussion was held with the Street Food Vendors in five hats and the Merchant Society of Nallapara bazar regarding food safety and cleanliness. Secretary of the Merchant Society, general members, Nayakrishi farmers, street food vendors, Jahangir Alam jony, UBINIG; Rabiul Islam Chunnu, Coordinator, UBINIG, Tangail and other staff members of UBINIG were present in the meeting. A. Quddus, General Secretary, Merchant Society mentioned that creation of public awareness for food safety was very important. He assured: “We shall ensure that food is prepared and served in hygienic environment”. The joint endeavor of UBINIG, Delduar Upazila Parishad and the Bangladesh Food Safety Network with support of FAO-UN for declaring Delduar a safe food Upazila is a noble venture. It is an eye opener effort for ensuring safe food for the people. The street food vendors will be encouraged to make safe food, keep food in hygienic condition and serve in clean containers.

At the end the discussion the members of the committee and the Nayakrishi farmers visited the market. Essential items for covering food were distributed among 40 street food vendors in five markets.

Conclusion:

Significant positive response was received from both the buyers and sellers in favor of safe food, especially street food in course of the observance of “Street Food Week”. Everybody was sincere for ensuring safe food and cleanliness. The consumers mentioned, “you have taken a good approach for creation of public awareness for safe food”. However there is more need of activities on a holistic program from production to consumption of food, ensuring safety and nutrition. Strong and bold steps are urged for resisting the act of poisoning food with formalin and such other harmful chemicals. It was observed that some vendors were busy covering food items when the open food items were photographed. It was revealed from discussion with some of the shop owners that they were aware of the need for food safety and cleanliness but they are constrained for lack of sufficient capital.

The street food vendors were very happy to receive the information and items to cover the food items. They also appreciated the discussion meetings on maintaining street food safety those were organized by Delduar Upazila Parishad and UBINIG. Such coordinated effort is needed to ensuring access to safe food for the consumers.