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Guidelines for an environmental education training programme for street food vendors in Polokwane city.
Thesis DEd (Environmental Education) University of Johannesburg 2001
Abstract: The scientific study of food has emerged as a discipline in its own right since the end of the 1939-1945 war. The need for the development of a training programme for street food vendors reflects an increasing awareness of the fact that the eating quality of food commodities is determined by a logical sequence of events that starts at the production of the food or the germination of the seed, and culminates in its consumption. From this point of view the street food handler is inevitably involved in certain aspects of nutrition, environmental health and psychology. Apart from the problems of handling and preparation of food, it seems likely that the food handler will become increasingly concerned with enhancing the biological value of traditional food. Further, there is the potential for evolving entirely new ways of preparation and handling as a result of the pressure of increasing population diversity and demand. This is likely to produce a need for the additional training of food handlers and health professionals. Street food is one of the major commodities with which Environmental Health Officers are concerned, and is subject of the present inquiry in Polokwane. This sector is a growing enterprise in Africa today: its expansion is linked to urbanisation, unemployment and lack of economic growth. Despite this, the role of street food in supplying ready-to-eat food has received little official attention; more notice has been paid to the potential dangers arising from the consumption of street food than to any benefits it might offer. This has resulted in the marginalisation of the sector′s activities. Much of the bias against street food is, however, unfounded and is based more on prejudice than empirical data. Official data on street food and its consumption in South Africa are largely lacking and few studies have been conducted in this regard. These few studies have shown that the street food industry is a large and complex sector, which provides a means of livelihood principally for unemployed woman and an affordable source of food to many thousands of people. The potential of street vendors to improve the food security in both urban and rural populations remains almost totally unexplored. Where the formal sector fails to provide opportunities for employment, people often resort to informal trading to make a living. This research has confirmed that street food is inexpensive, and immediately available to consumers. In Polokwane the sector produces an integral part of the diet that is regularly consumed by all income groups, but particularly by commuters, workers and school children. Street food is extremely diverse in terms of what is available: it includes drinks, fruit and vegetables, meals and snacks. The ways in which street food is processed vary widely and include the preparation of food on the city street in relatively heterogeneous and unregulated conditions. The potential drawbacks of street food include its safety requirements; the lack of training of street vendors; quality control of the preparation and microbiological safety; consumption requirements; and the enormous variability of street food in terms of ingredients used by different vendors and the way in which it is prepared.
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