Posted: April 24th, 2007 - 5:45pm by Ben ChapmanIn Toronto, street meat (street vended hot dogs, sausages, brats) is all that's available to eat right now. There has been some coverage in the Globe and Mail, and more recently the Toronto Star on this issue.
I'm all for a review of current street-vending regulations in Toronto and increasing the diversity of food available to Raptor fans, Bay Street execs and visitors looking for a quick and trendy meal. Celeb-chef Suser Lee's suggestion that Toronto could create an international reputation for street vendor meals and be analogous to Paris' connection to exquisite perfume, is as simplified as the street meat he wishes to supplant. While a clever marketing strategy, the risks associated with more intricate street fare beyond those in pre-cooked sausages could make Toronto the diarrhea capital of the world instead of a destination full of creative and tasty street treats. Complicated foods comes with complicated preparation and handling steps. Multiple raw ingredients need to be kept at the right temperature, operators have to avoid cross-contamination and, keep bacteria and viruses off of their hands; just like what is required in restaurants. Already, Canadians suffer from 13 million cases of foodborne illness each year. Proper facilities and hygiene tools are required, but more important, the operator (whether at a cart on Front St., or in a restaurant in the Beaches) must know and care about the risks associated with the products sold. Controlling food safety risks on the street requires awareness of these increased hazards -- something sorely missing from the shiny, happy coverage to date -- and increased vigilance in managing them.