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Roadside eateries pay no attention to hygiene

K. Ravichandran (47) of Aruppukottai just needs Rs. 40 to have a non-vegetarian unlimited meal on a roadside eatery on V. O. Chidambaram road near the Central Bus Stand in Tiruchi. On Sunday, while he was being served a curry, a layer of dust kicked up by a swirling wind fell on his plate. A layer of dust also covered the omelettes and parottas being made by the food stall owner. But neither he nor Ravichandran bothered much about the dust and Ravichandran continued to enjoy his lunch, as the owner went on cooking.

Ravichandran was not a lone customer having lunch at the roadside eatery. Similar was the scene at most of the roadside push cart eateries at Central Bus Stand. At least 50 customers were seen eating at different stalls on VOC road. Most of them were having lunch as they waited for buses to various destinations.

Some of them were drivers and conductors of State owned transport corporation buses and private buses.

They get one parotta at Rs. 10 and kuska and varieties of rice at just Rs. 20 per plate. One plate of mutton biriyani was being sold at Rs. 70.

“Most of the restaurants charge Rs. 100 for a vegetarian meal. In addition, I have to pay Rs. 10 to Rs. 18 to the government on Goods and Service Tax. I cannot afford it. Hence I prefer to eat at a roadside eatery,” says Ravichandran.

Surprisingly many are aware that most of the food stall owners pay little attention to ensure hygienic environment and hygienic methods of food preparation.

“We know well that we eat food items prepared in a poor hygienic condition. But, we can afford only to eat at roadside eateries,” says a woman, a Thiruverumbur bound passenger from Erode, who was having lunch at a roadside eatery.

A owner of a roadside eatery said that he was giving top priority for hygienic preparation of foods but the windy season was making the job difficult.

Sounding an alert on possible outbreak of diarrhoea and cholera, M. A. Aleem, former Vice Principal, K. A. P. Viswanatham Medical College, said that most of the roadside eateries were transacting business in an unhealthy and unhygienic environment. The windy season would make the food quality worse. It was important for the health officials to ensure good environment surrounding eateries.

While acknowledging that roadside eateries have come to stay in the city, Dr. Aleem further said that the Tiruchi Corporation, Public Health and Food Safety officials should conduct an awareness programme for all owners, cooks and other employees of these eateries.


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