Let’s promote wholesome and safe street foods

BY: graphic.com.gh

Street food makes an important contribution to employment, household revenue and food security and helps meet the challenge of feeding urban populations.

Dietary habits and traditional meal patterns change when people move from rural to urban environments, and cities offer access to a variety of foods outside the home, including street food and what is obtained from restaurants and kiosks.

As an 'informal' sector of food business, street food often escapes formal inspection and control. It can, therefore, both be the source of food safety problems and contribute to the deterioration of environmental hygiene.

Street food, therefore, requires a comprehensive policy to ensure that it is safe and wholesome.

Indeed, there is a sprawling market for the street food sector, which is a rapidly growing part of the informal sector, which is vital for the economic planning and development of many towns.

Street food vending represents a source of income and economic sufficiency and is becoming an attractive source of livelihood due to the relatively inexpensive resources needed to start a service.

Sadly, studies by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) over the years have shown that vendors lack basic understanding of proper food-handling practices, while concerns over poor hygiene and the spread of food-borne disease continue to be the bane of the industry, leading to continued increases in reported cases of food poisoning.

It is in the light of this massive patronage of street food and the inherent dangers that the Daily Graphic applauds the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the FAO for taking steps to ensure that the health of patrons of street food is not compromised by coming up with the licensing scheme for those engaged in the business.

Recently, the FDA, in collaboration with the FAO, launched the Street Food Vending Permit programme intended to compel vendors to comply with all the requirements of good hygienic practice to provide the needed assurance for consumers.

That was after the successful piloting of a programme in the Korle Klottey municipality in the Greater Accra Region, through the collaborative effort of the FDA, the FAO and the assembly to ensure that food safety laws are observed.

And so, with the slogan: "No Street Food Vending Permit, No Business", the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, affirmed the sticker on a street food vendor's joint to mark the rollout of the programme.

We believe that effective regulation can make street food safer, and it is in response to this that the FDA and the FAO have been working to ensure that the food that the vendors prepare and sell is handled hygienically and safely to minimise food-borne illnesses in our communities.

We see the effort by the FDA and its collaborators worthy of support by all to enable them to carry this sensitisation programme throughout the country to the level that the public will demand the level of compliance by vendors before patronising their food.

It should be possible that in the not-too-distant future, those vendors without licences should not be allowed to be in the business.

We strongly urge street food vendors to cooperate with the FDA and its partners to secure the vending permits to ensure that the food they serve is safe, healthy and nutritious.

We further encourage them to continue to adhere to all the food safety practices that they have been taught, and not just go to sleep once they secure the permits.

Also, just like the way the Korle Klottey Assembly partnered the FDA to successfully pilot the programme, the Daily Graphic urges all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to support the FDA to help promote safe street food within their jurisdictions.

It is said that the one climbing a good tree deserves a push; we believe the FDA is charting a good course and must be supported to ensure a healthy workforce to support Ghana's developmental agenda.

After all, a healthy nation is a prosperous nation.