Doctors have cautioned people against consuming street food during Ramadan this year, particularly since the holy month coincides with the summer season when bacteria can spread rapidly.
Dr. Wafa Redwan, a pediatrician at Halah Essa Bin Laden Polyclinic, told Arab News: “Traditional Ramadan favorites including kibda (liver), shawerma and balila (boiled chickpeas) sold in the open are susctible to bacteria like e-coli, salmonella and staphylococcus aureus, which can be quite dangerous or even life-threatening for children.”
She said most street vendors are located only a few meters from the dusty and exhaust-filled streets which can result in easy contamination.
Redwan said that since the beginning of Ramadan, she has had patients with gastritis, as well as serious cases of illness due to consumption of unhygienic food.
Dr. Sobhia Mahmoud, a family physician at the New Jeddah Clinic Hospital, also has similar views, stating that the increase in incidence of illnesses among residents could be because many people turn to street vendors to save time in preparing food for pre-dawn and pre-dusk meals. “What they don’t realize is that while trying to save time, they are actually taking chances with their health,” she said.
Over the past year, the Jeddah Municipality has been cracking down on restaurants and vendors selling rotten food to customers. In fact, last month, three high-end restaurants were shut down because they had violated health norms and were serving contaminated food. Authorities also resorted to cutting power supplies and imposing fines of SR130,000 on establishments which had violated health norms.
According to Jeddah Municipality records, more than 2,500 restaurants and eateries have been shut down in the city.