Deadly Street Food: Why Street Food Is Dangerous

Not only rolls and pasties from the station tent are fraught with dangers for your body. Here we have collected information on how to protect yourself from food poisoning and cope with its consequences.

Many people like to eat on the street, which means it is safe. Right?

If it were safe, infectious diseases hospitals would not be filled with people with food poisoning. The first thing after admission, I send patients for blood and feces tests – and I regularly detect parasites. Harmful organisms wait for the right moment and strike when the immune system is weakened.

SourceReason for infectionWhat can you pick up
Sanitary conditionsUnsanitaryInfection with Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus
Incorrect storage of wasteSpread by carriers (rodents, flies and others) of E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella
Raw foodWaterMay contain Escherichia coli, fecal streptococci, Salmonella and Vibrio cholerae
Fruits, vegetables and spicesMay contain spore-forming bacteria such as clostridia and bacilli, pathogens of listeria, salmonella, shigella and others
Dishes and kitchen utensilsХимияDishwashing detergents can be toxic
MicrobesCross-contamination of food and products with Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Shigella through water, dishes, cook clothes
Storage and overheatingIncorrect storage temperaturePotential for high temperature resistant toxins secreted by Clostridia and Waxy Bacillus
Chef or salesmanPersonal hygieneStaphylococci, Salmonella and Shigella are transmitted from the carrier

So you can’t eat street food?

You can still eat something. My test purchases from street cafes show that sweet pastries are safest. But remember: this is not the healthiest snack. As a dietitian, I do not recommend eating baked goods often.

If you want to eat meat on the street, choose the grill. Be sure to check that the food is well done. No blue or medium rare. Request to fry the steak until well done and overcooked.

To kill germs, the temperature in all parts of the food must reach 70 ° C.

Even more or less safe are boiled corn, nuts and simple salads that are cut right in front of you.

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Do not under any circumstances buy:

  • milkshakes;
  • ice cream is not in its original packaging;
  • pre-prepared salads, especially with mayonnaise;
  • dishes with eggs, dairy products and sausages;
  • sushi and rolls.

I do not recommend street food for people with exacerbations of stomach and intestinal diseases, fermentopathies and chronic pancreatitis. Also, you cannot take risks if you have cancer or an autoimmune disease. In all other cases, an individual permitted list of products can be developed.

If you couldn’t resist, ate a burger at the festival, ate craft ice cream, and then suddenly felt bad, take the enterosorbent “Polysorb”. It will help you quickly get rid of unpleasant symptoms, and also remove harmful poisons and pathogenic microorganisms from the body.

What about grandma’s pies at the train stations?

Railway station pies are “Russian roulette”. Nothing is known about the quality, composition and shelf life. For minced meat, stale leftovers of meat can be used, and because of the spices you cannot determine this. In addition, the seller may have infectious or viral diseases. So it’s better to refuse such street food.

Can I drink draft drinks on the street?

Necks and smoothies are safe when the clean fruit is cut in front of you and immediately thrown into the blender. It is better when the drink consists of one or two ingredients: then it is more likely that the whole fruit is used, and not its leftovers.

With draft kvass, for example, everything is complicated. It is dangerous to buy it at the end of the day or early in the morning. The barrel can stand in the heat all day, and this contributes to the reproduction of pathogenic flora. In the morning, you may be sold something that you did not buy the previous day. Therefore, if you want to drink kvass, choose the points where there are small canisters. The ideal time is 10-12 noon. The name of the individual entrepreneur and all the necessary quality certificates must be on the tent.

But buying juice or another drink with ice is always dangerous. Ice is often made from dirty water, so it can contain harmful bacteria.

What is the correct way to wash fruits and vegetables? It happens that they are simply dipped in a basin of water.

It is better to refuse food if you see that:

  • vegetables are washed in a common basin;
  • not washed at all, but simply cleaned with a knife;
  • washed and cleaned in advance (at home, for example).

The risk of contracting a foodborne infection in such cases is higher. The worst thing is mechanical cleaning of a dirty vegetable or fruit. The parasite can enter the pulp with a knife. Ideally, raw food should be brushed and rinsed with boiling water.

How should the ingredients be stored? Sellers use different methods. For example, in Asia, in 40-degree heat, raw meat is stored in ice bags.

Asia’s example is not the best in terms of infectious diseases. In the heat, meat quickly deteriorates. Ice does not provide uniform cooling. That is why spices have become popular in Asia, especially red pepper. Acute increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This helps prevent the entry and reproduction of pathogenic flora. By the way, the situation with fish is exactly the same. Wasabi is added to sushi for this very reason.

Perishable food should only be stored in the refrigerator.

How should food be prepared? What should the chef wear? Street food sellers usually have no gloves, no hat, and no apron.

The cook must wear gloves, special changeable clothes and a hat on his head. Take a closer look at the cleanliness of the apron: stains and dirt on it should scare you away.

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It is important to know in what conditions the food is prepared, whether there are markings and a refrigerator, a medical book from employees. Now I am noticing positive changes. Street cafes are open type with large windows. Customers see the chefs and cuisine. There is more trust in such cafes, which means more sales.

How should street food dishes be washed if they are not disposable?

It is advisable to have a washer and dishes to dry at high temperatures. If the cafe does not have equipment, find another one. And I recommend the owners of such outlets to take care of high-quality disposable tableware. In the age of healthy lifestyle trends, this can become a significant competitive advantage.

For cold food and drinks, you can use dishes and packaging made of polystyrene, for hot food – made of polypropylene (it can be safely heated to 120–140 ° C, including in a microwave oven). Disposable dishes made of polyvinyl chloride and melamine cannot be used.

Street food is often deep-fried or grilled. What is the danger of old deep-frying oil or meat that spins on a spit all day?

Better to buy food that is cooked over an open fire or boiled. Frying oil is dangerous with carcinogens and transformed fats. But with pork and chickens on a spit, everything is more cunning.

Former supermarket employees said: meat and poultry that could not be sold in the first or second week are abundantly sprinkled with seasonings and sent to small grill points. They can stay there for another two or three weeks if they are not bought earlier. The longer the product is stored, the greater the chance of reproduction of pathogenic flora in it.

If flies land on ready-made food, is it scary?

Yes, it’s dangerous. Therefore, it is advisable that the products are covered with cling film. Flies spend most of their life in a harmful bacterial environment, therefore they carry diseases. On their paws can be eggs of worms, pathogens of intestinal infections (salmonellosis, cholera, dysentery, typhoid) and tuberculosis.

Flies can also lay eggs on the product, which after a while will turn into maggots. With weak immunity or stomach diseases, they may not be completely digested and cause serious upset.

Does the location of the street food outlet affect the food hazard?

Location has little impact on the quality and safety of food. The internal routine is more important. The presence of pathogenic flora depends on personnel, supply and storage of food. Both safe and dangerous cafes can be located on the same territory.

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But there is such a rule: if the outlet is popular, the flow of buyers is large, and the choice of dishes is small, say, one or two main positions, then the food will be bought well. And therefore, it will always be fresh, even in hot weather.

The less food is open, the safer. But a lot depends on the person’s immune system: if it works well, the infection will not linger in the body.

What to keep in mind when buying street food abroad?

Overseas people often experience traveler’s diarrhea. Because with local food, other strains of bacteria enter the body. People with a small number of microbiota are especially affected. This can occur due to excessive hygiene practices. If you are fixated on cleanliness and constantly wash your hands, the immune system will not be able to fight pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. Therefore, more and more scientists say that excessive hygiene can harm the body.

When traveling to exotic countries, it’s best not to experiment with local street food. Due to the characteristics of your body, you may encounter individual intolerance. And then the trip can end up in an expensive hospitalization.

“Polysorb” is a powder, so it can be safely transported in hand luggage or checked in. Even if they play football with your suitcase, nothing will happen to the drug. If you suspect a food allergy, poisoning or intestinal infection, take Polysorb right away. Dosage depends on body weight and symptoms. And before the party, it would be appropriate to dilute a couple of spoons of Polisorb. The drug will not let you die from a morning hangover, and the rest will not be spoiled.

What hygiene rules do you need to follow yourself? What if there is nowhere to wash your hands before eating?

Now you can wash your hands in many parks and pedestrian areas. If there is no water, use a tissue first, then an antiseptic. You cannot eat with dirty hands – this is a common cause of infection.

If it gets bad after street food, what to do? What first aid can you give yourself?

If you think you got sick after a certain food that you ate 1-2 hours ago, you can flush your stomach. And be sure to drink adsorbents. They are the main helpers in poisoning and foodborne infections. The drugs absorb and remove gases, toxins, microbes, drugs, allergens, radioactive isotopes, and salts of heavy metals from the body.

If after street food the child becomes ill, urgently call a doctor.

To always be ready, keep in the first aid kit “Polysorb” – it is safe for pregnant women, lactating women and young children. It is easy to take Polysorb. It can be mixed even in fruit drink or juice, and for babies – in breast milk. It acts immediately upon entering the body – after 1–4 minutes. The drug eliminates the cause of the disease, so that in a short time you will feel that you are getting better.

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