Wiley Online Library
Street food is a prevalent part of the food service industry. It is convenient in terms of accessibility and cost, but perceived as potential risk of foodborne illness. Accordingly, the safety of street foods in Beirut, Lebanon was assessed using an observational checklist and microbiological analyses. A total of 30 vendors were observed for their food safety parameters and 60 samples were analyzed for their content of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria spp., and Salmonella spp., then, statistical analyses were performed for possible correlations. Results showed unsatisfactory levels of foodborne pathogens. Microbiological contamination was significantly correlated to unproper environmnental surroundings, deficiency of potable water, money handling, inappropriate methods of refrigeration, and the limited access to improper disposal facilities near stalls. These findings reveal the microbiological quality of street foods served in Beirut, and highlight on the practices to be ameliorated to provide safe street food products to consumers.
Street food emerges as a social adaptation in urban areas due to its rapid lifestyle hence it may present a public health risk due to various factors. The current study is the first of its kind to be conducted in Beirut and its results present solid basis for further practices at different levels. Divulgation of its results would lead to new governmental laws to protect the public health and reduce the economic burdens related to hospitalization due to foodborne pathogens and poisoning. Educational institutions would also be involved in applications related to training and awareness sessions for street food handlers, to teach them the good hygienic practices. This study will also help consumers identify good and bad hygienic practices thus choose appropriate street food handlers.