Chennai: Mobile food carts have mushroomed by leaps and bounds in the locality, at Mylapore in the city, that a main road without a roadside eatery in a corner seems a thing of the past.
While a few like those on Abhiramapuram Fourth Street in the area function through the day serving hot snacks, several like those on Luz church road function only till noon serving tiffin and food .
Individuals who want to set up a small business of their own but lack adequate capital to launch it mange to set up these eateries by obtaining a small loan. Customers mostly labourers and those from lower middle class families flock to these carts for their morning breakfast or noon meal because the cost is affordable , service quick and they need not have to shell out money for tips.
But hygiene takes a back seat at these eateries. Many are of the opinion that one should exercise caution while eating at such roadside joints, as they could be a source of diseases as the level of hygiene they maintain is low.
The cooking medium used at such joints, are known to cause problems of gastroenteritis.
Food is exposed to open air, and there are chances of dust and insects settling down on the food. People, who favour such roadside eateries, should do a preliminary scan of surroundings and avoid unhealthy fried food items said Venkatesh.
Food items that are cooked or prepared in roadside eateries have been in the most unhygienic and deplorable conditions. Conditions in hostels , canteens , catering facilities bus stations and rail stations are even much worse.
While the serving and eating places appear kept clean and well maintained , kitchen and store rooms are in a highly deplorable condition. These are potential breeding places for bacteria and germs causing health hazards. Customers rarely come to know about the unhygienic condition of the cooking & storage areas
The Health department of the corporation and civic authorities, elected representatives( counselor, MLA,& MP…) do not seem to show much concern about this vital health/civic aspect.
“Periodically check on restaurants , cooks ,storage places of all items, quality of water used, standards of cleaning and disposal process, periodical health check up of staff who can be carriers of infectious diseases and conditions of bathrooms and toilets should be carried out by concerned authorities,” says Dr.H.K.LakshmanRao of Krishnapuri.
“I think formation of a high power official reviewing committee is needed to oversee and compel correction of the unhealthy conditions,” says K R Krishnaswamy.