The Healthiness of street foods in Indonesia

By Vincentius R. Oetomo

vendorFood is the most important thing for anybody in the world. People cannot live without consume any food. But how about them whose do not have any enough money to buy the food? In Indonesia, some people who do not have enough money, they eat foods which are sold around street. Those foods are so cheap, around $ 0.05 to $ 0.5. So, many Indonesia people are able to consume that food. But sometimes the vendors sell unhealthy food, they do not consider selling healthy food and just focus to increase their income. For example, noodle which has formaldehyde and “Gorengan” which has plastic for the ingredients. (Gorengan is a name of foods in Indonesia, like fried banana or anything else which fried in the frying pan).

Noodles with formaldehyde will extend the expired consume date. So the vendor can sell the noodle in a long day. This will give an advantage to the vendor, but it will give an adverse to the consumer. The formaldehyde will make damage to the cell function; irritation in the stomach, and for the long term consumption, the consumer will have a cancer. It’s a quite difficult to know the difference between noodle formaldehyde and normal noodle. Sometimes, even they know the noodle contains formaldehyde, they still consume it because they love the taste and the affordable price. For the poor people, they have no choice because buying the cheapest food is only the way for them to survive in life. Some of the people who had eaten the food got some syndrome, such as laryngitis, pain in the body, migraine, queasy, diarrhea, etc.
mie formalin
Noodle with formaldehyde
Gorengan is like a snack. Many Indonesian people like it, usually this make from a large yellow onion, yam, eggplant, banana, and anything else, depends to the person who make it. They fry the foods in the oil to make it crispy (The most important just fry it until crispy). Usually gorengan will end the crispy tasted after 4 or 5 hours, but with plastic contain it, the gorengan will still crispy even more than 24 hours. Some vendor use plastic straw, put it into the gorengan, and fry it. Another type of plastic that the vendor put to the gorengan is Polyvinyl Chloride and Vinylidene Chloride Resin. Polyvinyl Chloride and Vinylidene Chloride Resin is a dioxin, poison chemical that can lead to cancer. This is common to many vendors in Indonesia around January 2006. The tasted still same, nothing different when they put plastic into the gorengan. Just crispier and the consumers like if the gorengan is crispy. There are some effects caused by consuming that gorengan with plastic. The different between gorengan without plastic and gorengan with plastic can be seen in the picture. But sometimes some people will be difficult to see the different.

Gorengan Without Plastic

gorengan plastic
Gorengan With Plastic

When this happen with many vendors in Indonesia, the government take an action to punish the vendor who use unhealthy or danger ingredients and send them to the court. However, government does not do many changes to help the poor people welfare.

goreng gorengtukang

The video below is showing the environment of the place/sidewalk where vendor sell the foods

This is a video about interviewing a successful vendor in Indonesia. Usually vendors in Indonesia open their own business, in which they make their own food, wash the dishes, open the place, and other activities, allby themselves. This vendor is a successful vendor, so he has some employees to help run the business. In this video, the interviewer asks about how they make the noodle, and the quality of the food and the service. [Editor's Note: The video is in the language of the Indonesian vendor and interviewer, and is presented here as a service to Indonesian students who may have concerns about family and friends back home who might be at risk from contaminated foods from other vendors. --J. Learn}

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