Street food in Kolkata, India


In many cities, so-called “street foods” play a large and increasing role in nutrition. Because such foods are generally low-cost, easily accessible, and cater to traditional tastes, they tend to be of particular importance in poor or informal communities and in areas experiencing high urban migration. The street food system is particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in water management. This is reflected in the fact that street vendors often have diminished infrastructural access to clean water for drinking or hygiene when compared with fixed-location providers. Moreover, street vendors often lack basic education, and rarely have formal training in food hygiene (or at times basic personal hygiene).

A 1992-3 study in Kolkata, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization, highlighted both positive and negative aspects of street foods, and led to the “Improving Street Foods in Calcutta” program. This study led to significant changes in the management of street vending in Kolkata. For example, it identified increased provision of safe potable water and continued upgrading of waste water collection and disposal systems as critical to improving health.
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