A late-night walk into any of the nukkads or gallis, and you’ll find them buzzing with hawkers dishing out affordable (and not to forget, yummy) eats. We have all brought our busy lives at a standstill only to halt at a handcart for a quick binge on samosa chaat and cutting chai. If you’re skipping what’s being served on the streets, you are actually missing out on more than just a quick, cheap snack.
The biggest bone of contention with street food is cleanliness and hygiene. The vastness of our geography and the population makes it very difficult to emulate Singapore’s street food model. But that does not mean we can’t succeed. Presenting Gujarat’s smart city, Ahmedabad, which has recently received the title of the country’s first Clean Street Food Hub.
It all started back in December 2017, when the food regulatory body, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) started certifying some of the best street food-places, as per a report in the Hindustan Times. As part of the process, a pre-audit of the streets of Gujarat was carried out by the FSSAI with the Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA), and other regulatory agencies. What followed next was suggestions for improvement and training of the street food vendors. Plastic glasses were replaced with paper cups, it was made compulsory for vendors to wear netted caps to hold their hair and gloves while preparing food. Besides, the Amdavad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has started imposing a penalty of Rs 500 if the place is unclean and civic officials check the quality of food every week, compelling street food vendors to maintain food and sanitation standards under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. It was only after suggested changes were successfully incorporated that the authorities declared Kankaria Lake’s khau galli area in Ahmedabad as India’s first ‘clean street food hub’. The lake, itself, dates back to the 15th century and is home to around 66 street food vendors that serve lip-smacking food, and thirst-quenching and refreshing drinks to almost 1.2 crore people annually.
Garbage disposal, maintenance of personal hygiene, health of the vendors and other workers who come in contact with the food, food storage practices, refrigeration and gas/stove arrangements, demarcation of cooking and non-cooking area, working street lights, pest control and overall cleanliness were some of the many parameters that were taken into consideration. At the time of the final audit, the vendors met 80% of the specified benchmarks of basic hygiene and sanitary requirements.
(Also read: Gujarati Thali: Let’s feast with our eyes first)
Project Clean Street Food is one of the many initiatives taken up by the food regulatory body under a 360-degree approach to Food Safety and Healthy Nutrition, as per FSSAI’s official website. This initiative aims at raising hygiene awareness and training street food vendors in order to revolutionise India’s street food scene at a global level.
The objectives of Project Clean Street Food are as follows:
1. To ensure health, hygiene and safety standard of street food for all consumers
2. To ensure social and economic upliftment of the street vendor community by helping improve the quality of their offerings thereby attracting more customers
3. To enhance the popularity of street food by transforming it into a global brand in itself.
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