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Concern over poor hygiene of street food sellers

Bhubaneswar: While poor drainage system and leaking water pipes are blamed in Cuttack for the spread of jaundice, neighbouring Bhubaneswar is no better in terms of sale of street foods.
Around 3,000 odd street vendors sell food across the city but they don’t use sanitized hand gloves. Food such as Dahi Vada and Aloo Dam, Gupchup, Chaat and Ghuguni are the most sought after items but hardly any safety measures are taken while serving them.
In March, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) introduced sanitized hand gloves for the vendors but failed to make it mandatory. City mayor Anant Narayan Jena himself led a team and distributed hand gloves among the vendors.
Paramita Panda, a resident of the city, said most of the food stalls don’t use clean water to prepare the food, let alone using hand gloves. “The use of contaminated water for food preparation is likely to affect more people,” she said.
At Unit-1 market, vendors were seen wearing gloves for a week, but business was back to usual soon. “If the civic body wants to enforce it fully, squads should be formed to monitor the sale of foods,” she added.
The city has nearly 12,000 Gupchup stalls, 700 fast food stalls and nearly 1,100 Dahi Vada and Aloo Dam stalls. At present all the stalls are using Public Health and Engineering Organisation (PHEO)-supplied piped water for preparing food. Some vendors also use tube well water and use them for cooking. These vendors either sell the food on mini mobile stall or on cycle-mounted counters. Some of them also set up their stalls at different happening places of the city.
What is worse is that there is only one food inspector for the BMC to conduct food audit, although the city’s food market is growing manifold. The lone inspector, deputed by the health department, also holds the additional charge of Ganjam district.
“After getting complaints of unhygienic food being served by the food vendors, I had initiated a drive to provide sterile plastic gloves to the vendors. But that didn’t continue for long due to lack of inspection by food inspectors,” Jena said, adding they have launched massive awareness drive on jaundice among people.

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