Street food safety tips

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Tucking into Delhi’s never ending array street food is a real treat.

Many of my most enjoyable moments have been spent at street food and tea stalls.  The smell, the taste and the sight of scrumptious street snacks makes me go weak at the knees.

Luckily, the Indian diet agrees with me too.  Since I’ve arrived I’ve managed to shed the pounds despite gobbling down loads of ghee laden curries and eating tonnes of deep fried food and sugary sweets.

My doctor wondered whether my weight loss might be due to worms.  I’ve purchased de-worming tablets once before, but that was for my cat in the United Kingdom.   I’ve never thought that worms would be something that I would need to worry about.

Why am I mentioning worms? Well, unhygienic street food can be the cause of more than nasty stomach upset.  You could get worms.  I know.  What a thought!  But, don’t be too scared.  Sampling street food and staying fit and healthy is possible.

I practice my six point street food safety test before taking the plunge.  There’s been the odd incident along the way, but that’s inevitable.

Do I need to eat street food straightaway? I know.  It’s tempting to get stuck.  But going gung ho means things could happen down below. Delhi belly is famous for a reason.  If you’re stomach is not used to spicy food let it have a few days to get used to what’s happening.

Are my hands clean?  I wash my hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.  If that’s s not possible hand gel is always in my bag .  I keep my nails nice and short. Why?   Not to look good.  Nasty bugs like to hang out under long nails. Given half a chance they’ll come out and party.

Is the vendor is busy?  A vendor is surrounded by hungry customers it’s a good sign.

Firstly, if the locals are crowding around it’s a sure sign that the food is top notch.  Secondly, a quick turnover means the food is fresh. Food that’s left lying around waiting to be eaten should be left where it is.

What do the customers look like? It sounds a bit harsh, but there’s a reason why I perform customer profiling.  If families and healthy looking diners are munching away I’m happy.  Tick.

What type of water is being used? Water from the tap that’s not boiled properly is a big no-no.  Take note that many sauces – like green chutney offered with samosa – will be made with tap water.

Watch out for sliced fruits like watermelon and pineapple too.  They look tempting in the summer sun, but that’s because they have been sprayed with water to keep them looking fresh.  Chuskis, the icy street treat from Mumbai, are sadly ruled out as well.  I know.  I’m upset about that too.

Is the area surrounding the stall clean?  A vendor that cares about his or her surroundings gives me confidence.  I try check out what facilities exist for cleaning plates and cooking utensils.  A plate cleaned in dirty water and then dried with a dirty rag isn’t what I want to see, but sometimes the food looks too go to pass up!

My six point food safety test can be completed in under a minute. Now it’s time for me to go and eat some spicy street khana.

And, just in case you were wondering,  I didn’t have worms.

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4 thoughts on “Street food safety tips

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