Friday, 1 November 2013

Wayside Food And Our Health

Rural urban migration has assumed serious national proportions in recent times. This rural urban drift has brought in its wake many human problems such as pollution, lack of accommodation, poor sanitation, street boys and girls and the sale of wayside foods on our streets, schools, in industrial areas, and lorry parks. Transportation and other household chores make it impossible for majority of the working class and school children to eat before leaving home for their various duties. Research has shown that many of those who patronize street food are people in lower average income brackets, who cannot afford to eat in restaurants. Street or wayside food business has therefore come as a 'saviour' to these groups. Some of such foods include 'waakye, banku, koose, yakayaka, bread, konkonte and agbli kaaklo' just to mention a few.

The business is serving as one of the main sources of employment to a great number of our women folk who are catering for the needs of many citizens and thereby enhancing efficient use of time. Even though some food sellers protect or cover food with napkins, nets and plastics, the insanitary conditions in their areas of operation leave much to be desired. In our markets and lorry parks, the situation is horrible as dust and flies continue to be a source of worry. Others keep both currency notes and foods like groundnuts, cakes, bread, koose, in the same containers, forgetting that currency notes are sources of germs. Some roadside sellers of bread, when unable to open the transparent plastic in which the bread is to be put, blow air into them to force them open. Little do such people know that a disease like tuberculosis is communicable. Again, keepers of Public Restaurants - popularly known as 'chop bars do not ensure that their 'fufu' pounders clean off their sweat and allow it to drop into the fufu. They also, sometimes in their zeal to attract customers, expose their meat to files and dust. It will go a long way to improve the health of our people if 'chop bar' operators remove food serving bowls and plates used to serve their customers just after they have finished eating to prevent files from dinning in them. Conditions under which some food vendors operate are appalling. Some of these vendors sell their food close to choked gutters, others by dust-prone areas, not to mention those close to refuse dumps and sewage disposal points. Some also do not observe personal hygiene. Apart from the insanitary practices, others are in the habit of using contaminated cooking utensils, poor quality ingredients, as well as poor storage facilities which are all health hazards to consumers. It is important to note that hands contaminated with any form of dirt should be prevented. Our unkempt environment and wayside food joints are major contributors to deadly diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and others.

To effectively deal with the situation, the various District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies should be strict in the implementation of by-laws banning wayside food sellers from operating in certain areas. The Ghana Prepared Good Sellers Association should also be reactivated in all the Districts and effectively supervised by the various District Administrations, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Health. There should be thorough and regular screening of food vendors for their certificates to avoid unhealthy persons from operating in the trade. Health is wealth; therefore the relevant authorities need to ensure that the right structures are in place to ensure the safety of all.


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