By Bernard Tolani Dada Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has introduced new regulations on open sale of “suya” and other food items in a renewed move to curb food borne diseases in the state.
A statement from the state commissioner for environment and solid minerals, Mr Charles Udoh made available to newsmen in Uyo yesterday in Uyo said the new conditions include the compulsory use of closed glass boxes for display of ‘suya’, roasted chicken, plantain and other street foods.
The statement said the new regulation would ensure that edible items were at all times kept clean and free from contamination, and adequately protected from pests and environmental contaminants.
“The contamination of ‘suya’, roasted chicken and plantain as well as other street foods in Akwa Ibom State has become a major source of environmental health concern to the state government.
“Although the street food industry provides nutrition, generates income, creates employment, and contributes to the economy, the sector has remained unstructured.
” It is characterized by improper food handling and storage by vendors, poor environmental sanitation, and consumer apathy towards food safety precautions, even where such consumers are aware of the health risks.
“Most street foods are not covered and are exposed to flies, dust and other environmental elements.
“To this end, all vendors of street foods must have a waste basket for the disposal of generated waste to avoid indiscriminate waste disposal while street vending is prohibited within 100 meters radius of a refuse dump site or waste receptacle.
“All street food vendors must therefore register with the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals.
Registration which is free is to ensure proper coordination of environmental health hazards.
“Any food vendor who violates the guidelines which would come into effect in July this year would be prosecuted and all food items seized deemed not fit for human consumption destroyed.
“Vendors of street foods in the state including ‘Akara’ and roasted corn sellers are reminded of the importance of personal hygiene, cleanliness of utensils and equipment and sanitary condition of vending sites.”