One common lifestyle of many people in the country is the purchase of street-vended foods in different places during various times of the day or night.
Due to faltering economic development as a result of various factors, street food vending has become increasingly important in the economies of many African countries.
The street food vending business is thought to contribute significant income inflows for households involved in selling these foods.
Street foods are a source of inexpensive, nutritious meals for various groups of the population. However, there is a general perception that street-vended foods are unsafe, mainly because of the environment under which they are prepared and consumed, which exposes the food to numerous potential contaminants.
Street food vendors usually operate from such places as bus terminals, industrial sites, market places and other street corners. Unfortunately, these locations usually do not meet all food safety requirements.
According to food experts, the consumption of foods contaminated by microbes causes a variety of conditions: indigestion, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis.
Many chemical substances introduced intentionally or not into street food have proved to be toxic. Ingesting these substances through food causes a variety of conditions and complaints such as allergies, anaemia etc
We are of the view that street food should be located in areas which are free from objectionable odours from sources such as open gutters, refuse dump, smoke, dust or other contaminants and are not subject to flooding.
Roadways and areas serving the facility should have adequate drainage and provision should be made to allow for cleaning. Living quarters, toilets and areas where animals are kept should be completely separated from and should not open directly into food handling areas.
Again, an ample supply of potable water should be available with adequate facilities for its storage, where necessary, and distribution, and with adequate protection against contamination. Also, adequate ventilation should be provided to prevent excessive build-up of heat, steam condensation and dust and to remove contaminated air.
No person, while known or suspected to be suffering from, or to be a carrier of a disease likely to be transmitted through food or while afflicted with infected wounds, or with diarrhoea, is permitted to work in any food handling area.
Any behaviour which could result in contamination of food, such as eating, smoking, talking, chewing, spitting should be prohibited in food handling areas. Besides, during periods where food is manipulated by hand, any jewellery should be removed from the hands.
Again, raw materials or ingredients stored on the premises should be maintained under conditions that will prevent spoilage, protect against contamination and minimise damage. In addition, raw materials or ingredients should be obtained from known and reliable sources.
Water used for washing utensils, food and hands should be safe and should not be re-used. Moreover, customers should not wash their hands at the same time, or one after the other, in the same bowl of water.
All relevant institutions should help in the prevention of unhygienic street foods.