New research shows 35 per cent of sampled street food in Yangon contaminated

According to new research, a lot of the street food in Yangon, Myanmar (below, exactly as shown) contains Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus. If not held at safe temperatures, the quick meals could be a particularly awesome place to create foodborne

The findings highlight the scale of the city’s food hygiene problem: More than one-third of the 150 samples collected were positive for either Staphylococcus aureas or Bacillus cereus, two common types of bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Almost one-quarter contained dangerous levels of the bacteria, researchers found.
The results of the research were released at the 42nd Myanmar Health Research Congress, held at the Department of Medical Research (Lower Myanmar) from January 6 to 10.

Dr Thaung Hla, deputy director of the biological toxicology research division at the National Poison Control Centre, conducted the research with three colleagues. The aim was to pinpoint just how frequently dangerous organisms are found in roadside foods.
Thirty samples from each of the five downtown townships were collected and tested. Of the 150 samples, 52, or around 35 per cent, contained either Staphylococcus auras (sic -ben) or Bacillus cereus.

The lack of enforcement means it is generally a case of buyer beware. Ma Su Su from Bahan township said she tries to avoid eating street food because of the frequency with which it makes her fall ill. It is easy to see how bacteria could be transmitted through street food, she said, because vendors do not wear gloves and wash plates and utensils in dirty water. 

The sub heading of the article is fun – especially considering the etiology of the pathogens:

New research has confirmed what many of us have already learned the hard way – that consuming Yangon’s street food can end in food poisoning, particularly for those who have not built up immunity to the many types of bacteria on offer. 

Sounds like there’s a perception that the street food is nasty. Building up immunity to Bacillus cereus only works for some types of illnesses, the ones linked to a cyclic peptide toxin that causes vomit – it is preformed in temperature abused food. And acquired immunity is pretty unlikely for staph enterotoxin (also preformed in food).

This entry was posted in Food Safety Culture, Food Safety Policy, Other Microorganisms and tagged , by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.