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The Hidden Danger of Eating Street Food

Updated on March 5, 2012
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Eating food along the street is dangerous

Now that many pollutants are everywhere, eating street food is dangerous. Even in many progressive countries, street vendors are selling newly-cooked food that lure the palate or taste buds of bystanders. I didn't have any grudge with the vendors but authorities should issue health warnings and certificate to ensure people of the safeness of the food they are selling. Even we're selling food at home, we must ensure the safety of the ingredients we are using. Food Poisoning can cause fatal effects or even death to people who are at risk when eating street food. Street vendors serve their food hot but are we sure it's safe?

Calamares as street food

Aside from banana cue, barbecue or kebab, fish ball, balut (duck egg with 17-day old chick), kwek kwek (flour-coated egg), isaw (chicken intestines) and betamax (cooked cow's or pig's blood made into barbecue), calamares (fried squid rings) is the new street food being enjoyed by Filipinos especially in the crowded city of Metro Manila, Philipines.

It's good to savor and eat the newly-cooked street food, especially calamares. You can eat it with sweet-and-sour dip (vinegar-sugar-garlic-onion-pepper, salt and flour mix). Yet, there are dangers lurking when eating street food.

Philippine Street Foods

During breaktime from work, you can see people in all walks of life who are in tight budget are crowding food stalls along the main streets in many cities in the Philippines (just like any crowded cities in Asia or other parts of the world) to eat street foods. It varies from viands or entrée, snacks and finger foods. Street foods are the alternative food if you want to be a spend thrift. The taste of the food can be compared to the food being prepared at famous fast food and restaurants. The only difference is the price; it's more cheaper. Tourists, local and foreign, are also enjoying this kind of food setting. Eating along the street, can be relaxing, but there are also dangers that can cause health problems for me and you.

Case No. 1. Babylyn Diloy, in her forties, suffered vomitting, scarred skin and muscle pains when she ate fried squid rings or calamares. She swears not to eat calamares anymore, even if somebody tempt her to do it.

Findings: It was found out by BFAD (Bureau of Food and Drugs) through a series of laboratory tests that there's a huge amount of formalin, a form of formaldehyde (a preservative) in the frozen squids being imported from nearby countries ( the recorded specimen was from China). What happened to Ms.Diloy was the contaminated calamares caused the adverse effects in her body that circulated through her blood.

Mr. Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. of BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Acquatic Resources) warned the public about the safety of imported frozen squid as street food. Administrative Order 195 of the Philippine government prohibits the use of such materials into a street delicacy. It can be used in food processing that will undergo a through testing and preparation to avoid unnecessary incident.

Testing Street Foods

Chromologic Acid Test should be conducted to know if a local or imported ingredient for street food as in fish, squid and other seafoods.

The intense purple color of the specimen indicates that there's a high content of formalin in it, like in the squid rings being feddled in the streets.

A simple feel-and-smell test will do for the squids. If it feels like a rubber and smells with chemical, then you must not cook it. Similar incident was experienced by yours truly when I cooked fried calamares onboard ship. Ship chandlers didn't admit it because it has a Health Certification.

So when you eat a certain street food, it is a must to ask first the vendor where it came from. It's for your own safety, I tell you. Safety precaution is an ounce of prevention.

Safety on Street Food - A Confession

"Think first, before you eat."

This should be my warning to all readers who are fond of eating street food.

I've been into this kind of 'eating-spree' when I was in elementary grade. Who can ever resist the local delicacies, as in turon (splitted ripe bananas in egg wrapper coated in sugar caramel), banana cue, camote cue or cassava cake with margraine and crushed peanut on top? It's so mouth-watering isn't it an it's affordable!

High school life was unforgettable along with upgraded street food of halo-halo (ice-based mixture of cooked beans, sliced banana, young coconut meat, jackfruit, ube and others with evaporated milk or condensed milk plus sugar caramel or just brown sugar with drizzle of rice pinipig (flattened green rice) or even ice cream scoops.

College life has never been complete without the aroma of barbecue or even the tempting sauce of fish balls and hot spices for barbecued beef blood or isaw (chicken's small intestines) and a lot more.

Although, my bottom line was to be a spendthrift during those years, I later realized that I was also prone to dangers from those street food.

Note: If you haven't read what I've learned during the seminar on Basic Food Safety which I attended last February 23, 2012; then, you can click on the link I highlighted here for your better understanding.

(Upgraded, modified with personal opinion and writings from travel_man1971 aka Ireno A. Alcala)

We Eating episode Street Foods c/o mono415

Street Food

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    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @patrick18: You're welcome. It's my pleasure to help students through my articles.

    • profile image

      patrick18 3 years ago

      tnx a lot travel man your nice guy and tx for helping me about my research..

      Thumbs Up.!! :))

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @patrick18: It's about the ingredients used in cooking street foods, say for instance fats or cooking oil, the gravy or dressing (vinegar, asado sauces and the like) when we buy such food items along the streets.

      You can search it with phrase like: related literature about street foods.

      There are articles concentrating on the high sugar contents on sweeteners being used.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      patrick18 3 years ago

      Can you help me about related literature about eating street foods?

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Patrick18: I hope this article will help you in a way in order to comply with the requirements needed for your research proposal regarding street foods.

    • Patrick18 profile image

      Patrick18 3 years ago

      sir can u help me about my research proposal about the effects of the street foods?

      help me sir as soon as posible.. thanks :D

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @travel man 1969 4 & baldado: Thank you for appreciating street food. We should also be cautious when selecting items that we buy from the street hawkers.

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      baldado 4 years ago

      It is not good to eat street because can give sex appeal

    • profile image

      travel man 1969 5 years ago

      Yummy yummy street food i encourage you to eat lots of it

    • profile image

      FRIEND 5 years ago

      Hello Friend...

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @josh: I know. So, be careful when eating street food, even it's so alluring to taste.

    • profile image

      josh 5 years ago

      hi mr im a good man

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @tontine: Thanks. Don't count the time consumed on the preparation at home. I'll stick on the term "spendthrift" because there will be no other similar term that will describe those who patronize street foods.

    • profile image

      tontine 5 years ago

      Great advice for sure. Only one point I wish to make is your description of someone who chooses to eat street food ... ie "spend thrift" ... time is money, so if you take into account the time it takes you to purchase and cook the meals that you eat the costs incurred for a home cooked meal at times far exceeds the costs at a restaurant! Spread the wealth I say !

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Angelo: Thanks for appreciating my effort to share this warning to all street food eaters.

      BTW, I am Ireno Alcala, a passive media man (inactive) but I continue my passion in sharing infos thorugh blogging and hubbing online.

      Good luck in presenting your thesis proposal. :D

    • profile image

      Angelo 5 years ago

      Hi sir travel_man1971, I'm currently writing my thesis proposal and I found that this article of yours is what I need to cite on my paper. So, how should I address you on my proposal as a reference?

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @renalene daatio: Like I said, I'm always choosy when buying street foods. I better cook it at home then, enjoy it with my family and friends.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @julie cardoza: I agree with you. I'm always cautious when it comes to buying street food. I will choose 'balut' (ducks egg) rather buy pork barbecue or chicken feet in an open air or along the streets.

    • profile image

      renalene daatio 5 years ago

      i love eating street foods because it's so tasty.but i only buy to the vendors that has a clealiness to their selves.

    • profile image

      julie cardoza 5 years ago

      eating street food was delicious but indeed it will cause a big problem to our health.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @vanessa: That's a very good suggestion. To be fair for the street food peddlers, you can also ask how they prepare it and choose the most-clean looking cart for you to start buying your favorite snacks, if you don't have enough time to prepare it at home.

    • profile image

      vanessa 5 years ago

      if you really love street foods, its better to buy the ingredients and cook it your own style, its much better than eating this street foods.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Dato Akin's: Maybe you are meaning the causes and effects of eating street food? I've shared some of the effects on this hub.

      As for the causes and effects of street food hawking , as in selling it, well you can prosper or fail depending on the number of customers that will avail of your dishes or delicacies.

      I have to elaborate this on another hub. Thanks for giving me the hint to do it.

    • profile image

      Dayo Akin's 5 years ago

      Please can I get some information on the causes & effects of street food hawking

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Marjun Touero: My co-seafarer encouraged me to eat tokneneng or the flour-coated (orange in color) quail eggs (fried) along the street. I questioned the vendor about its cleanliness. He reasoned out that the dust will be removed once it is re-fried again and dip into a vinegar-based dip. What a lousy explanation!

      Well, you might as well try the clean version of these street foods at the mall. The food court offers an array of those appetizing street food that we know for sure of its 100 per cent cleanliness in a well-organized surrounding.

    • profile image

      Marjun Touero 5 years ago

      yeah right ..... That's why we have to avoid eating streets foods men

      but is there other of street foods?

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @josephcox: Hello, Sir Joe! It's nice hearing comment from you, too. You're right. Better watch the street food vendor cook your food infront of you than just take an order of pre-cooked food.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @seriousnuts: I'm glad you read this hub (my early ones). I'm so into calamares before. On board ship, officers and crew often request for fried squid rings.

      Food handling and safety make me think twice about frozen squids. I'll be updating this hub for the sake of the readers, like you.

      Thanks for the hub-visit. Mother's instinct said it all:D

    • josephcox profile image

      josephcox 5 years ago from Mandaue City,Cebu

      Thanks every one for your comments. We all learn from each other.It pays to know your vendor, and if you cn watch the food being prepared.

      joe

    • seriousnuts profile image

      seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the warning! I don't eat much street food. My mother just won't allow me to. It was during college when I was first introduced to street foods. My friends would buy calamares along the street and buy rice in a nearby carinderia for lunch. Street foods are very cheap and they taste great too. Now, learning about the formalin made me cringe.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Street foods are now being upgraded at the mall. Small business entrepreneurs are being encourage to sell their street food inside the market.

      This is better and contamination will never be a problem.

      It's also your money's worth, and your health as well.

    • Arian Rey profile image

      Arian Rey 6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES)

      We must be choosy at all times when eating street food. Some observe cleanliness but the air mix with pollutants from passing vehicles along the street can contribute to the contamination on the food.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks for that vote of confidence. I respect those vendors but some did some unscrupulous ways just to sell their products.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 6 years ago from Southern California

      Travel: BRAVO on a well written topic that needed to be discussed. I for one have always been a picky eater but coming from a family in the medical field and hearing stories about the illnesses people contacted abroad taught me years ago it is a NO NO.. Great great hub.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      You're welcome, fherish17. Hope it does for you. LOL! Anyways, eating street food is no laughing matter. If you personally know the peddler, then you'll also trust your health with them.

    • profile image

      fherish17 6 years ago

      thanks i have so many learned for this site. as a more as i can hhehehehq1!!!!

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @jham: What for?

      @eudociadavis: Thanks for the appreciation. Safety is everybody's business. No one is exempted from it; much more about street food. It is often contaminated, even though the prepartion is clean but the open-air atmosphere can affect the content of the food.

    • profile image

      eudociadavis 6 years ago

      Thanks a lot for this hub,very interesting and very informative.

      I'll keep these things in mind when i will go for street food.

      Really it can be harmful for us while eating in the street if the vendor is not enough clean as well as his food.

      So true.

    • profile image

      jham 6 years ago

      hahah

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Fujoshicat: You're right. The word cautious is the right term for food we had to buy along the streets. We never know the secret ingredients of those deliciously-looking street foods.

    • fujoshicat profile image

      fujoshicat 6 years ago from California

      That picture of Philippine street food looks delicious! Especially the fried eggrolls. But formaldehyde in squid :0! I think the Japanese had a scare recently with frozen gyoza (dumplings) from China. It makes one cautious with ones food, which is probably a good thing.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
      Author

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks for the support, applejack2. Street foods are tempting, but I had to refrain from buying. I'm careful with my health now when my cousin got afflicted with Hepatitis B by just eating such vended items.

    • applejack2 profile image

      applejack2 6 years ago from Mandaue City, Cebu Philippines

      Hi i hav just published a hub about eating on the street, only on a smaller scale than you. i agree we have to be careful when eating on the street. looking forward to reading more of your hubs .

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Better prepare your own snacks at home, Ms. Carrie. That's what I'm doing these days. Thanks!

      I'm not letting down small businessmen or entrepreneurs. This hub is just a precaution about what happened to the customers who, unknowingly, have been victimized by the distributors of the ingredients, like the controversial squids.

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      I'll reconsider buying any street food after reading this. I guess the safest way is to brown bag it yourself.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      You're right, KTB. Better prepare your snacks at home.

    • kids-toy-box profile image

      kids-toy-box 6 years ago

      Street food is always so tempting but the thought of not knowing how its been prepared always puts me off! I once worked in a cafe when I was a student so I have seen first hand what goes down in the kitchen...hmm the thoght of consuimng food made on the street..hmm just too scary for me.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks for the reminder, midnightbliss. Really...street food eaters should ask for the freshness of the sauce or better yet, ask for separate container when dipping your food into the sauce.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      street foods are very popular and we love them, not only they taste good, they are also affordable, but we just have to be cautious when buying, we should check the hygiene of the vendor and the cleanliness of the stall.

      double dipping with in the sauce for fish balls and other similar street food should be avoided.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      joyce1208, thanks for asking my help. How about having clean and nutritious food at home? Or in many food courts at the malls you often visit or hangout? Street foods are often contaminated due to polluted air in the city due to the smokes emitted by cars and public utility vehicles. The vendors didn't undergo the inspection of sanitary personnel in the city. Would that be all? I hope it would help you. Sana nakapag-submit ka na. Na-late kasi akong buksan ang HP account ko.

    • profile image

      joycee1208 7 years ago

      heeeeeey.. can anyone help me fill out my Project??? :) La na ko ibang maicp.. ;|

      Topic: Street Foods

      Goal: To persuade my audience that street foods induce threat to one’s health.

      Proposition: Eating street foods is not healthy because…

      A. We are unaware of the ingredients used in the foods.

      1. Food-borne illnesses

      2. Vomiting, scarred skin and muscle pains

      3. Cause allergic reactions such as asthma and hives

      B. There are many affordable but clean foods, aside from street foods.

      1. Fast Food chains (e.g. Jollibee, Mcdo)

      2. *help*

      3. *help*

      C. Street foods are exposed to dirt and pollution.

      1. Bad in hygiene

      2. Poor nutrition

      3. *help*

      help me... MARAMING SALAMAT! ;)

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Hehehe... you're so kalog talaga. I'll do that and insert it here as update.

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      hahaha.. i love latik! i don't know the other ones you just said..take a picture and post it..hehehe.. ok fine! now I envy you..LOL

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Well, I have lots of street food these days in our barrio, genrp. The difference is that it is being vended house to house by kids of the mothers who cooked it. Have you eaten sweet products from sticky rice (malagkit), like arroyo (mixed with cassava the colored violet), biniribid (resembles like figure of 8), binutong (cooked sticky rice with coconut milk wrapped and boiled in banana leaves) or ibos and latik (wrapped in coconut leaves and banana leaves respectively)? Now, envy me, too (hehehe, jokes)!

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      hahaha.. I just saw your comment today.. I really haven't eaten any streetfood here..when I went home to the province I ate a lot of streetfood! now envy me..hahaha..jk!

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Your visiting my hub is much appreciated, coolmon2009. Safety in preparing and serving food,especially street food should be observed at all times.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      genrp: thanks for the food. I'm goona catch it though, or better yet you can treat me to a cool street food stall somewhere in Makati City. I've heard and observed that they're really observing safety measures while serving those mouthwatering and alluring street foods, like squid rings, tok-neneng, kwek kwek, balut (all three are egg products), banana cue (of course) partnered with buko (young coconut) or sago (tapioca) with pandan leaves extract for a drink.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Interesting information and precautions that should be observed anywhere in the world - thanks for sharing

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      hahaha.. sure why not! you willing to catch the food?

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Oh, I forgot, my bad. Anyways, let me first in HubPages to greet you a Happy Birthday, Happy Valentines'and Happy Anniversary.Padala ka naman tsibog (smiles).

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      exactly! and next week is gonna be my birthday so that's one reason I'm goin home this weekend.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Yes, it will be a good respite away from the tedious task of being a call center agent.

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      can't agree more..i'm goin home to my province this weekend and I sooooo swear I'm gonna eat my favorite street foods..hahaha..safer than street foods being sold here in metro manila..

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      It is less polluted in many provinces in our country, the Philippines. The danger, or more likely, in crowded cities, like Metro Manila. Thanks, Gen.

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 7 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      interesting hub..I love eating street food when I'm in our province but not anywhere in Manila..

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Yes, febriedethan, we have the same situation here in Philippines; crowded cities and countless street vendors.I hope the government will do the necessary action to orient them to not become an eyesore in the main thoroughfares of the city.

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 7 years ago from Indonesia

      Travel_man, this is so true, the street foods in my country are almost the same, and the sellers are so many, We seem face the same problem here, thank you for sharing this :)

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Just be sure that the vendor observe cleanliness in the food he/she serves. Thank you, bacville.

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      bacville 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I like eating kwek kwek (orange flour-coated fried egg)dipped in a sweet-and-sour sauce or vinegar. It is already my snacks during recess in school.

    • travel_man1971 profile image
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      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks, Sir Peter D. Many of us are too trusting, but we could still exercise precautions as always, when we eat street food.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

      A frightening article with wise advice. That said, I love street food and there is a risk in everything we do. Having lived largely 'off the streets' for years I would add. Eat from the popular vendors and stalls. People who poison their cuistomers do not stay in business for long. Thanks again.