Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam

by Tiep Pham

In Vietnam, people are very busy. Just like in America, they do not have time for making their own foods. They prefer cheap and easy eating. Thus, in Vietnam, we do not have fast food restaurants or those restaurants are too expensive for Vietnamese people, so how can they eat cheap and fast? We have things called food stands.

They usually stand on the side walk. We have so many of them that we block the sidewalk and make it very difficult for pedestrians. However, people who eat the food from the stands are really enjoying it. They smile and eat and chat with their friends. Some people really consider it part of their lifestyles. However, if we analyze those foods or we actually come to see the food makers making their foods, we can see how horrible it is and how much dirty stuff that Vietnamese people take in every day.

First of all, I am going to talk about one special dish that most people and especially students love to eat after school. Food makers sell them in front of every school. When students get out, they can eat it or their parents can eat it while they are waiting for their children. This food is called phá lấu. It is made with cow’s intestines. We all know that the cow’s intestines are very chewy but the food makers make them so soft and tasty in a short period of time. How do they do that? Well, nothing is impossible especially when you want to make profits.

Let’s take a look at the pictures that I got from a Vietnamese public website. (I tried to find colored pictures but I could not find it. This is a little bit hard to see.)

This boy is using bare hand, bare food and he even sits on the intestines.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

This is when they boiled the intestine.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

This is when they “clean” them using bare hand and …….bare foot.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

And here we are, a phá lấu food stand full of students.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

This is a very serious issue in my country. The Vietnamese government has even made a television commercial to warn people about this unhealthy way of eating but it seems useless. I ate this once when I was in junior high school. It was very good, very tasty, and soft with a nice color. However, when I learned that they made it the way that I just showed in the pictures above, and that they actually put some chemical in their food to make the intestines get soft faster, I felt nauseated, and I would never eat that again.

Since swine flu is spreading this year, I choose to talk about how people prepare pork to provide them to the market. I also took these pictures from a Vietnamese public website.
Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

They making pork really fast and professionally, but they let the pigs lie down on all over the floor…
..Boots are the only thing that is used to protect those food makers. Sometimes, they let the pork lay on the floor and they wash the pork with their foot.

And here we have “fresh” pork with no box or containers to cover the meat.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World

They provide pork to the market in the early morning. Of course, the pork has had no exam for swine flu. Even if it is checked, the people who put the pork into quarantine seem very bored with their job. Holding stamps on their hands, they just look over the pig and stamp on the animals so that they can get done fast and go home. Then, customers come and buy this pork, believeing that it is fresh and has been checked.

[Editor's Note: You can't catch swine flu from eating pork! You can catch it from a live pig that has the flu, and people who have the flu can give it to the pig. The workers who slaughter the pigs and are around live pigs are the ones at risk for the flu, not the people who buy the pork. However, if the pork is prepared in an unclean way, that is a different set of risks---but the flu is not part of it.]

We need to eat to survive, but if we keep eating unclean and unsafe foods we have a higher risk for more diseases, which may be costly for medical care and might shorten our lives. Not only Vietnamese people but also people all over the world, should make their own foods as much as they can, because they do not know what the food makers put in the foods and the conditions of where the food is made. Not just cow’s intestines and pork can be risks, but also from other dishes. Instead of street vendors, you should buy food from safe sources such as supermarkets or clean, well managed farmer's markets. The Vietnamese people prefer buying food from markets rather than from supermarkets because the foods are cheaper. Eating safely should be our first choice instead of money. Foods with a little bit higher price will help us save money from spending on medicine. Therefore:

Here are some more pictures that my family took for me in Vietnam. of street food vendors and the conditions.

Selling food without cover.

Unclean process of food makers in Vietnam - Nutrition for the World
Cleaning dishes using the same amount of water all over again. Some people have to use napkins to clean the forks and spoons before they use them. Somehow those dishes, forks and spoons are still oily and they have a little bit foods still stuck on them.

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