The Hidden Danger of Eating Street Food
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)
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Ireno Alcala