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Go slow on street food, experts say after tests show germ traces

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Go slow on street food, experts say after tests show germ traces

10:23 PM January 26, 2012

DAVAO CITY—Authorities here cautioned the public against consuming street food in the wake of results of tests that showed some of the food carried significant traces of harmful bacteria.

People were told to wait until efforts to make street food safe have been completed.

The warning came after tests done here and in other parts of the country showed some of the food were unsafe.

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The tests were done by the Department of Science and Technology and Center for International Migration and Development (CIM), a group funded by the German International Cooperation Agency.

Aside from this city, tests were also done around University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, some areas in Laguna and Cagayan de Oro City.

Anthony Sales, DOST director for Southern Mindanao, told reporters on Monday that the tests conducted here, in coordination with the University of the Philippines Mindanao, would be completed by February.

Initial results, however, yielded alarming findings, said Sales.

Sales said at least 40 food samples, including “kwek-kwek” (deep-fried hard-boiled egg coated with flour), “balut” (unhatched duck egg), “isaw” (pig or chicken intestines) and grilled meat, were tested.

“Initial results of the study showed significant amounts of pathogens like salmonella and E. coli,” said Dietmar Speckmaier, CIM food safety consultant.

He said the contamination might have been caused by poor personal hygiene among vendors or those who prepared the food.

He said food products being sold on the city’s streets, such as in the other test areas, were also exposed to dust and flies.

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“The amount is significant enough to make people sick,” Speckmaier said of the findings.

The amount of food sampled for the tests was statistically big enough to represent food being sold by 1,000 street vendors in this city, he said.

“We’re not trying to destroy the street food vendors sector, we’re trying to groom this sector,” Speckmaier said

He said CIM was planning to conduct food safety training programs for street vendors.

Sales said DOST would also lobby for the passage of an ordinance that would require vendors to submit samples of their food products before these are sold.

He said a draft ordinance had been crafted in coordination with Councilor Pilar Braga, chair of the city council’s committee on trade, commerce and industry.

Vendors, he said, should also be provided carts to keep their food safe.

Each cart, equipped with stainless food and water containers, would cost from P10,000 to P20,000 and would be part of the DOST’s assistance program for street food vendors. Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Food, Safety
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