The next time you bite into your favourite roadside vada pav or get lured by the smell of the Chinese food stall round the corner, you might want to put yourself on a bacteria alert.
A random survey conducted by the diagnostic centre Metropolis Healthcare Limited revealed that at least 88 per cent of the street food Mumbaiites indulge in is contaminated by various kinds of bacteria that make them unfit for consumption.
The survey also found cooked food to be safer uncooked food such as sandwiches, which have higher bacteria counts.
In the survey, conducted between December 2009 and February, medical professionals subjected 70 samples of Mumbai street food to a quantitative bacterial analysis test in the laboratory, and found 61 to be bacteria infected.
The 50-100 gm samples included those of sandwiches, Chinese gravy, vada pav, sev puri and falooda from popular joints around Nariman Point, Haji Ali, Shivaji Park, Bandra-Kurla Complex among others.
In the food analysis, 59 samples contained high counts of Coliform (e-coli) bacteria and 40 had Faecal streptococci — both types of bacteria indicate faecal contamination of the food. Besides other forms of bacteria, 37 samples also showed the presence of growing yeast and moulds. “Food turns unsafe due to improper storage after cooking and unhygienic handling such as not washing hands at regular intervals,” said Dr Shamma Shetye, department head for molecular biology and microbiology at Metropolis in Mumbai.
Shetye said 90 per cent of food poisoning cases are caused due to the types of bacteria found commonly in raw foods.