Fast service and a casual dining experience are the features that characterise ‘street food’, the latest trend in out-of-home eating. People who are pressed for time or want to lunch or dine in a sociable setting frequently choose to eat on the go. These wishes have led to the development of street food – food sold from food trucks or carts in public places – as a current cutting-edge trend. TÜV SÜD explains what is important in terms of food safety and Hygiene.
Modern street food is sold from food trucks, food carts mounted on bikes or vendor's trays, demonstrating the increasing diversity of this fast food from street traders. ‘Street food’ is the new name for these foods and beverages sold by mobile vendors in public places. They mainly comprise food intended for immediate consumption, served as finger food that can be eaten without cutlery or on paper plates. Prepared right in front of the customers' eyes, the food is advertised as particularly fresh and reasonably priced. According to a study conducted by GfK Nuremberg, a German company specialising in market and consumer research, 29 % of the working population in Germany buy street food or food to go from nearby shops in their lunch breaks. According to Germany's Federal Statistical Office, the working population in Germany adds up to 43 million people, so that this percentage equals around 12.5 million street food consumers.
Street food labelling
Germany's food laws protect consumers against health risks, misleading information and deception. Street food in Germany must fulfil the same general food-law requirements as all other food products. For example, like food products sold in supermarkets or restaurants, street food must comply with the requirements of the German food labelling regulation (Lebensmittelinformationsverordnung, LMIV). Consumers are thus entitled to full information about all ingredients and the 14 main allergens to be declared. Other requirements to be complied with include regulations on additives, maximum values for contamination and product-specific requirements.
The be-all and end-all: food hygiene
Street food suppliers must also comply with the food hygiene regulation (Lebensmittelhygiene-Verordnung, LMHV). Under the LMHV, every company that produces, processes or sells food must analyse, monitor and document the critical control points for food safety and define appropriate safety measures. Food products and their complex compositions offer ideal breeding grounds for micro-organisms. For this reason, strict regulations have been established governing the production, storage, processing and preparation of food to protect consumers. Food products are also subject to the German Protection against Infection Act. Under this Act, all individuals handling, producing or selling food need a health certificate issued by the public health office that authorises them to carry out these activities .
Basically, street food does not involve any more or different hazards than conventionally sold food products. Nevertheless, strict regulations must be observed. Typical for street food is that the food products are attractively presented and prepared right in front of the customers' eyes. Essential for ensuring compliance with the relevant hygiene measures, for example, is the separation of food handling and payment processes. Where people who handle food also collect money or even touch food and then money without washing their hands in between, the required level of food hygiene is no longer ensured.
Suppliers, and street food traders in particular, must not skimp on the time needed for ensuring the correct level of hygiene, infection protection or labelling.
Further information on food safety is available at www.tuv-sud.com/foodsafety.
Press contact: Carolin Eckert