Booming street food is not safe in Kabul

Sher Aqa is a street food seller in Kabul, who has kept his business since 11 years ago. He says he gives his customers a decent meal in exchange for 50 afghanis and many customers rush to him.

Street food varies from place to place. People enjoy it universally for it is cheap, convenient, and easily accessed. But when it comes to the Afghan capital, Kabul, the business of street food has all those characteristics except convenience and safety.

Alongside crowded expensive restaurants of Kabul, street foods are also thriving. The business is widely running in most populated streets across the city with a broad popularity among residents of Kabul, mostly for drivers of public buses, street vendors, students of universities and schools, and workers.

Food vendors are expanding their menus in different areas. From Bolani to Burger, fried liver, and Qaboli Palaw, are all available in relatively cheaper price on the streets.

While a large number of customers are routinely consuming street foods, some people think it is not healthy and clean. There are also some people who have unexpected experience of eating streets foods.

Abdullah, a resident of Kabul, shares his unpleasant experience of consuming street food. He says that once he became ill after buying and eating cooked beans on the roadside.

However, many food vendors claim that their food ingredients are as clean as the ingredients used by restaurants. Abdullah Sultani, who fries liver at Kot-e Sangi, says that he has already received a license by the Ministry of Public Health and pays the government up to 80 afghanis tax on monthly basis. “Everything, we use, taken from oil to vegetables and liver are all registered at the Ministry,” Mr. Sultani said.

A large number of food vendors say that most people like their food because of its good quality and reasonable price. Doctors, however, advise people not to risk their health for cheap and unhealthy food.

Dr. Najibullah Amarkhail, who works at a private hospital, says that if people pay 50 afghanis for food then they will have to spend at least 1,000 afghanis for their health. He says most of his patients are those who take street food. According to him, “people shouldn’t use roadside foods. These foods cause different diseases including nausea, diarrhea, taeniasis, and other infectious diseases.”

The Ministry of Public Health says that a new rule for ‘food safety’ is under the process and soon will be implemented. According to a number of officials at the Ministry, this rule has eight chapters and 34 articles applicable on every food business.

According to statistics, over 80 people have come to the Ministry this year for medical examination. Ahmad Rasheed Ahmadyar, who is working at the Ministry of Public Health, says none of the policies and rules set by the Ministry of Public Health are implemented on street food.