Making street food safe in Thailand

FDA/MOPH Thailand

The fast pace of life, with little time to cook, has more and more people taking to street food. Street food is becoming increasingly common among the urban and peri-urban population. In Thailand, street food is popular not just among the residents but also among the thousands of tourists fascinated by the Thai delicacies. Ensuring safe street food, thus, assumes priority and significance to prevent foodborne diseases.

Noom Attichai, a street food vendor in Bangkok, Thailand, is among the several street food vendors who have their stalls ready by evening with a variety of cooked food for his customers to choose from. Noom proudly talks about his growing clientele and the ‘Clean Food, Good Taste’ certificate awarded to his stall. “The Clean Food, Good Taste’ project aims at ensuring that hygiene is maintained at all stages – from food preparation to serving the food to customers. Being part of it makes me feel proud and also creates trust among my customer”, he says.

Today, over 85 000 street food vendors and 50 000 restaurants are part of the Clean Food, Good Taste project, launched in 1989 by the Ministry of Public Health along with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Interior. The campaign aims at reducing the risk of foodborne diseases in restaurants, cafeterias and street food vendors; promote clean and hygienic food services in tourist areas across the country; and support and encourage local authorities to ensure food safety in their areas of jurisdiction.

The project defines 12 standards of operation for the street vendors. The food stall surface should be made of material that is easy to clean. Food preparation and cooking area should be elevated to at least two feet above the ground. Cooked food must be stored in clean and covered containers and should be covered. Food additives used must be approved by authorities. Drinking water must be fit for human consumption and stored in clean and covered containers, to name a few. For restaurants need to adhere to 15 standards of operation, while cafeterias have to follow 30 measures to get the Clean Food, Good Taste certificate.

“This project has helped promote food safety and create awareness among the people. The street food in Thailand is delicious as well as safe,” says Mr Thanacheep Peerathornich, Director of Bureau of Food Safety Extension and Support, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health.

WHO has all along supported this novel and important initiative, sharing guidelines on how food safety can be ensured in various settings. “This is an excellent intervention for other countries to emulate,” says Dr Yonas Tegegn, WHO Representative to Thailand.

Thailand is now embarking on ‘Clean Food Good Taste Plus’ to make food safety standards more comprehensive. This enhanced initiative adds more food safety measures for restaurants to follow and will randomly evaluate certified restaurants. Now not only the vendors, but those making space available to the street vendors have to ensure good sanitation and waste management. This initiative, beginning with the tourist areas, will be expanded across the country. The project also aims at 100% certification of ‘Clean Standard Wet Market’ by applying comprehensive and universal sanitation standards.

Food safety is a critical for public health as unsafe food and water causes a range of diseases, deaths and impacts the wellbeing of individuals as well as nations. The World Health Day 2015 focuses on ‘Food Safety’ - From farm to plate, make food safe’.

For more information please contact:
World Health Organization
Country Office for Thailand
4th Fl.,Permanent Secretary Bld 3
Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi
Tel: +6625470100, Fax: +6625918199