That irresistible puchka you want to gulp down in one go need not give you hygiene anxieties any more if the city civic body has its way with vendors.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation is gearing up to take measures to ensure street food vendors follow proper hygienic practices.
Street food in Kolkata, with phuchkas and aloo chats as its staple attraction, are a hit among citizens and outsiders as it is cheap and easily available. Since a large section of students dip into street food, KMC authorities feel the food items should be safe and are not allowed to be sold under unhygienic conditions.
Though quite popular, street food often have come under scrutiny for not maintaining proper standards of hygiene. The challenge is to encourage vendors to maintain quality of food, standards of hygiene and keep it low-cost, the officers of the civic body said.
"We want to make street foods safe in the city. It has been our focus to ensure that street food vendors maintain a standard of hygiene so that the customers will not have to be suspicious of the quality of food offered," Atin Ghosh, member, mayor-in-council (health) said.
Ghosh had attended a national seminar on street food in Mysore organised in collaboration with the Mysore corporation, in which several guidelines and suggestions and ideas regarding how to regulate street food on safety and hygiene parameters were exchanged among the participating civic bodies.
In keeping with the guidelines formulated in the seminar, KMC health department, under the supervision of Ghosh, has decided to formulate their own regulatory guidelines taking into account the demand of the city. Use of safe, potable running water will be a key measure to be taken under the guidelines being worked out since water that is unsafe for consumption cause a variety of diseases. The vendors must also ensure proper garbage disposal and that food is handled in a scientific way. A certain level of temperature is maintained while cooking the food is also being considered.
The civic body will organise workshops around the month of January, Ghosh said to create awareness among vendors about the need to provide safe food to customers. Meetings will also be held with representatives of street food vendors and consumer affairs department and public health and engineering department to educate these vendors on the regulations in place and the guidelines they will required to follow. However, the civic body, Ghosh said, will keep regular tabs on street food, whereby vendors and food joints will be evaluated according to the quality of service and the food they offer. Meetings will also be held to find out about the problems faced by vendors. Based on the findings from the meetings, government facilities, if possible, will be extended to them, civic authorities said.
"We want to make street foods safe in the city," said Atin Ghosh.