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Thrissur Pooram and Kumbh Mela have in the news lately, thanks to a new video released by the ISIS, threatening to unleash a Las Vegas-type attack on the crowds. While we cannot predict the authenticity of the clips and the likelihood of the attacks, we can be sure of one thing -- there's a chance you could catch stomach flu if you are not careful with the food! Mass religious gatherings like the Kumbh and Thrissur Pooram attracts huge crowds from all over the country. Since the fests witnesses such a huge turnout, it is not possible for government-appointed Food Safety Officers to monitor all the foods being sold at the fairs or given for free at the annachatra and bhog. Vendors from all over the place sporadically congregate at the fairs, and most of them don't carry licences and permits from the government to sell food. This creates a perfect situation for food-related mishaps like food poisoning and other gastric illnesses to spread.
If you plan on attending mass gathers like fests and fairs, it is important to follow some of safety tips lest you end up with an upset stomach. Here are eight questions you must ask before you buy food at fairs.
1.Does the stall have a permit?
The first rule in your rulebook of eating out is whether the vendor has the permit to sell food. If there is a license, it is likely that food safety rules have been followed by the vendor.
2.How is the food being handled?
If the vendors are using bare hands to pick up the food, it's best that you give the stall a miss. Unclean hands can harbour pathogens, which can then get transferred to the food. Eat at places where the food is handled using gloves.
3.Is the workstation neat?
Take a peek and check whether the workstation where the food is handled is clean. If not, avoid buying or eating the food. Also check if there is fresh water supply at the stall where the employees can wash their hands and utensils.
4.Does the food contain raw or uncooked ingredients?
If yes, it's best to steer clear. Raw and uncooked ingredients can cause stomach upset more than their cooked counterparts. Cooking can kill the pathogens. That's why it is important to insist on freshly-made, hot, cooked food.
5.Are the foods packaged?
Go for the packaged foods. The chances of food contamination are much lesser when it is packed in plastic.
6.Are there animal products in the food?
Perishable animal products like milk-based foods and meat have a greater chance of making you sick than the vegetarian ones. It's possible that these food items may contain pathogens like salmonella and e coli. To be on the safer side, give anything that contains animal products a miss.
7.Does the food smell right?
Rotten or stale food may come with a peculiar odour. Make it a point to watch out for any kind of unpleasant smells before buying or consuming the food.
8. Is the stall close to toilets?
Sometimes, the food stalls may be uncomfortably close to toilets. It's easy for the wind or flies to transport pathogens and other disease-causing germs to the food.
Image source: Shutterstock
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