Street food accounts for a significant proportion of the daily food consumed in urban areas and is the least expensive and most accessible means of obtaining a meal outside home.
Nevertheless, those who sell them often do not meet proper hygienic standards, leading to food-borne illnesses.
Keeping this mind, a group of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR) doctoral students from the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) took up a study to assess whether street food vendors in Mysuru comply with safe food practices and FSSAI guidelines.
The three–member study team, comprising Anusha Jahagirdar, Darshan Narayan and Kamireddy Kiran, assessed 1,456 food stalls within the limits of the Mysore City Corporation (MCC).
While Ms. Anusha is a microbiology student, Kiran is a student of biotechnology. Darshan Narayan has an engineering background.
These students were assisted by four other students in the study.
Vendors and consumers were selected randomly in nine MCC zones.
In each zone, 22 vendors and 22 consumers were interviewed with a questionnaire in Kannada. In total, it included 200 vendors and 200 customers.
“On an average, 40 percent of people in Mysuru rely on street food daily. The daily transaction is over Rs 12 lakh,” Ms. Anusha told The Hindu .
People say that street food is tasty but not satisfied with the food vending sites. Majority of the vendors are found too close to thoroughfares, which exposes the food to dust and particulate matter.
The street vendors expressed that cart used by them is very inadequate and this is the area which needed attention, the survey observed.
As per the survey findings, 52 per cent of the vendors used water from the supply of MCC, 15 percent from mineral water and the remaining was sourced from borewells.
The customers expressed their preference for mineral water and using eco-friendly plates. “Clean water is the key customer demand,” they said.
Around 75 percent of the vendors displayed food without proper covering which is a major area of safety concern, the study found.
Proper handling of waste, including segregation, is another focus area. The students said use of excessive colorants is food should be restricted.
While many of the carts are unscientifically designed, a few of them found in Hebbal and K D Road can be viewed as “models” for other vendors.
Consumers expressed that the proposed food zones by the MCC can address these issues for evolving a better and hygienic surroundings for street vendors.