Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This is a good discussion, thank you Stefano.  

All agree that street food is here to stay, that it is a vibrant market sector and provides a good service to people who need it.  But all also agree that food hygiene and safety standards are low (see e.g. Ilaria Proietti).  The technical and social means of dealing with this are clear:  training, inspection, rules and standards, clean water supplies, good sanitation, clean transport etc. It is not at all clear however how these are to be achieved where public funds are lacking.  

The only alternative I can see is improved consumer education and influence, the market “pull” factor that Hélène de Lisle described in the NFSI project in Benin where (as I understand it) children learned to ask vendors for healthy food, and vendors duly responded (I must find out more).  But can that work more widely?  The Good Greens polling system where customers give vendors red or green marks according to their price/ taste/ hygiene/ freshness and nutritional quality, is very direct and appealing and I imagine that consumers can probably generally see freshness (though even in a stew?).  But how can they recognize good hygiene (e.g. if they cannot see how food or plates have been washed) or judge nutritional quality or know if foods are contaminated or if colour is due to chemicals? 

I have tried to find out from FAO if consumer education can achieve these things but have had no joy.  I have not seen these skills covered in school or public education materials.   Does that mean that consumer education can't achieve much?  And if regulation can't be afforded, does that mean we can't fix the problem of safety in street food?  Can anyone show the way here?

Jane Sherman, nutrition education consultant, FAO