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STREET FOOD: Disease Trade

STREET FOOD: Disease Trade

We can find street food at almost every little corner in major towns in Cameroon. In Douala for instance, the fact that these street foods are ready made foods and drinks sold by vendors or hawkers gives an added advantage to people who have no time and patience to cook. Inhabitants who eat street foods are not only attracted by the affordable prices, but its unique flavour creates anxiety to savor.
In as much as street foods remains beneficial and inevitable to the society today, these meals are perceived to be a major public health risk due to lack of basic infrastructure and services. The conditions under which food is sold in some places across Douala today is very poor. Meals especially those sold just along the streets like, akara and beans, roasted corn, puff-puff, roasted fish, soya etc are exposed to flies and dust that gives asylum to food borne diseases,some are sold just beside waste disposals.
An act which is inclined to greater negative impacts on the consumer’s health.
People who frequent street foods have and are vulnerable to widespread food borne diseases including diarrhea, typhoid fever, cholera and food poisoning. The 2010 cholera outbreak in Cameroon for example was blamed on poor hygiene and dirty water, the Ebola outbreak in some countries and other epidemics partly arouse because of street food.
. In some cases, over staled food has also been the order of the day. the tendency with street vendors is that they wish to see all their products bought and if that is not the case they resell their products over and over without minding the implications on consumer’s health. From the haphazard nature of selling food in most areas of Douala, one can conclude that most street vendors lack mastery of basic food safety issues, unconducive cooking environment, dirty cooking and serving utensils, unclean water and ingredients used in preparing, and most especially the vendor’s personal hygiene are drawbacks to the quality of food one eats. It is therefore left on consumers to check out the sanitary conditions of vending sites and notice whether food is sitting out and if it is kept at an appropriate temperature.

Besides several risks associated with street foods, it offers a wide range of business opportunities for developing entrepreneurs, as well as contributes to the economies of developing countries. The population of Douala is increasing rapidly due to the mass influx of people from rural areas. In order to make earns meet, most of these people indulge in street vending and hawking. Street foods are considered today as a necessary evil for the simple reason that many can’t help but visit such places for survival. The fact that starting a small petty trade does not require enough capital drags many to it, especially in a country where more than half of the population is unemployed. The unconducive selling environment in Douala deteriorates by the lack of environmental and public health regulations.

Sandrine N.

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