Is taste, not cleanliness, the criterion for best street food?

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia- Hygiene should not be used as a yardstick to determine the world's top 10 cities for street food.

City Rio coffeeshop owner Teoh Sim Mee, 54, agreed that Singaporeans were "generally more hygienic" when handling food but the criterion for the listing should be the taste of the food, not how clean the stalls were.

"The listing is for the best street food, not the most hygienic," he said.

Meanwhile, the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) has been urged to improve the cleanliness of roads and drains.

Federation of Penang Hawkers and Penang Hawkers Association president Lam Tong Ying said he disagreed with moving street hawkers into malls or enclosed food courts because street food is part of George Town's heritage.

"Street hawkers operate beside drains and busy roads so perhaps the council can step up their efforts in clearing up the clogged drains and back alleys where these hawkers do business," he said yesterday.

Lam was commenting on a suggestion by Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris for the state government to do away with street hawking as it was one of the least hygienic methods of distributing food.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Commit­tee chairman Phee Boon Poh said about 200 outlets that did not meet cleanliness standards were closed last year.

He also noted that Penang was lobbying the Health Ministry to allow the two municipal councils here to be empowered to close down food outlets found to be dirty.

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