Kidney Diet Tips

Food Safety and Street Food

As food becomes more accessible and cultures integrate, many people around the world have begun to enjoy a diverse array of cuisines on a daily basis. Each of these fares bring unique foods, flavors and cooking methods. In an effort to compete in a busy market, many vendors have begun selling their unique dishes as what is known as “street food.” They may be mobile in food trucks or have a spot in an open market or other venue. For kidney patients food safety is a concern when eating street food. In addition, the sodium, potassium and phosphorus content of items served is a consideration.  

Street food by definition is food that is typically sold outdoors in a public area. Street food is usually prepared quickly and may be more affordable than other types of dining. It often offers a variety of cuisines and because of its public location, can be a place for socializing.

It is important to remember with any cuisine or dining setting, to think about food safety. With kidney disease, the immune system is often weakened. This can lead to an increased risk for developing foodborne illness. Street food has different challenges in keeping food safe, often due to location, resources and staff training. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a street vendor. Following these guidelines may help protect yourself and others from the potential risk of foodborne illness.

Another consideration is your kidney diet. Some street foods are high in sodium. Others may contain high potassium or high phosphorus ingredients. To learn more about how to make street foods more kidney-friendly, download DaVita’s Today’s Kidney Diet Street Food Favorites cookbook.

Cleanliness

Before choosing to purchase a food item at a local street vendor, be sure to observe the environment in which the food is being prepared. Look for clean countertops, floors and other surface areas. Are the servers wearing gloves? Can you observe employees washing their hands and changing gloves between cooked and raw products? The environment should be free from pests, such as mice or flies, which could potentially spread foodborne illness. In addition, many countries and states require that a food vendor have a permit or license and pass a safety inspection prior to service. This license or permit should be placed in a location that is easy for the customer to view.

Is the Stall Busy?

A long line may be a good sign that a street vendor is safe to choose food from. As street vendors establish their presence in a community, word often spreads. Speak to the locals to determine which street vendors have a positive reputation for good food and cleanliness. Look for long lines, high traffic, and freshly prepared foods.

Food Options

Look for vendors with a small menu and limited options to help decrease your risk of foodborne illness. Due to the limited space of many street venues, adequate refrigeration, heat and storage space can often present a challenge. By limiting the number of options on a menu and preparing food as it is ordered, vendors increase their ability to keep food safe, store potentially hazardous food products such as raw chicken away from ready-to-eat products such as fresh peppers, and provide fresh, delicious food that keep customers coming back.

Still in Doubt?

If you still have concerns about choosing a street food vendor, consider choosing foods in their natural wrapper. Items such as bananas and tangerines where the peeling is not consumed can decrease the risk for consuming foodborne germs. When ordering meat consider the degree of doneness. A chicken breast or hamburger may cook more thoroughly than a roast or leg of lamb. It is important that the inner portion of the meat is cooked to the proper temperature needed to kill food borne bacteria. Also more handling is required to move, slice and serve large pieces of meat.

As the food industry continues to compete with a variety of dining styles and cuisines, street food is making a mark. Street food can be a great way to get fresh air, socialize with others and try new foods. It can be quick, affordable, and offer a wide variety of flavors. Choosing foods and places to dine with kidney disease may be challenging at times, but street food can be enjoyed and safely incorporated into your diet!

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

Resources

Food safety issues related to street vendors. (2016, October 14). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128017739000315

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982977/

Street food. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/food/food-safety-quality/a-z-index/street-foods0/en/

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Jessica Fink MS, RD, LDN

Jessica Fink MS, RD, LDN

Jessica Fink has been a Registered Dietitian for two and a half years, recently in the renal specialty. She also works in the acute care setting managing a variety of nutritional needs. Jessica previously worked as a Health Inspector with a focus on food safety. She enjoys Zumba, cooking nutritious meals, and spending time with her daughter.