Food-lovers find it hard to resist delicious street-food but it costs them much more than bank notes as the food exposed to dust, disease-causing flies and harmful chemicals are sold unabated across Srinagar city.
The exposed food carries germs and chemicals into human bodies. Traces of deadly carbon-monoxide emitted from thousands of petrol and diesel vehicles settle on the exposed food, and dust flying off damaged and dirty roads adds to the problem.
Swarms of flies and other insects are seen hovering over uncovered fruits and eatables like dates, making them unfit for consumption.
Most street vending cart owners and roadsides eateries seem to be either unaware of the harmful effects of consuming exposed food or do not bother, both cases indicating the government’s failure to curb the hazard.
The most commonly sold exposed eatables in Srinagar include beef barbeques, fried snacks, chicken biryani, chopped fruits, dates and pickle. Even raw food—fruits, vegetables, mutton and beef—hung on hooks uncovered.
Yousuf Shabnami, a passer-by in Karan Nagar area, alleged the government’s Drugs and Food Control Organization of not curbing the menace. “They are in deep slumber,” he said.
Another person, Qazi, said raw meat, fish and chicken is openly sold in every ‘nook and corner’ of the city. “Officials should come out of their cosy rooms to keep a check on unhygienic food items,” he said.
Concerned about the sale of uncovered raw meat, another person, Nayeem Ahmad said, “Butchers openly sell uncovered meat and have no concern about people’s health even though it is very evident that the air carries dirt and harmful gases from cars.”
Ahmad said some butchers also sell “diseased, infected, injured and unhygienic animals” in absence of routine market checking by the concerned government officials.
Controller, Drugs and Food Control Organization, Jammu and Kashmir, Lotika Khajuria said the authority will soon conduct a drive against the traders selling uncovered food in the city.
“Our department is already doing frequent checks in the markets but we will do an exclusive drive for uncovered food items being sold in [the] city markets,” she said, adding that those found guilty ‘will be dealt with strictly’.