A Study on Street Food in Helsinki: Poor Quality In Chicken, Noodles and Whipped Cream

A food vendor serving soup from a mobile kiosk in Helsinki. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A food vendor serving soup from a mobile kiosk in Helsinki. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Helsinki Environment Centre examined the hygienic quality of the foods and ingredients sold at outdoor sales points and events in Helsinki in 2015 and 2016.

Of the total of 53 samples taken in 2016, 72% were found to be of good quality, while 13% were passable and 15% were poor.

All of the samples determined to be of poor quality were taken from event and mobile kiosk operators. Mobile kiosks are often operated by the vendors, who sell at events.

The samples assessed to be of poor quality primarily consisted of foods prepared by the operators themselves, such as cooked chicken, boiled noodles and whipped cream. The poor quality of the samples was primarily caused by the presence of large numbers of Bacillus cereus bacteria and enterobacteria, as well as the high total plate count of aerobic microbes.

The hygienic quality of all the samples taken from marketplace operators was either good or passable. Repeat samples were also found to be of poor quality in most cases, indicating that there have been clear deficiencies in the operations of individual vendors.

Of the samples taken in 2015 (51), 80% were found to be of good quality, while 14% were passable and 6% were poor.

At the time of sampling, the temperature of over half of the samples exceeded the temperature limit of 6 degrees Celsius defined for cold-stored foods in both years that samples were collected. All of the samples that were found to be of poor hygienic quality had been stored at inappropriate temperatures.

The results indicate that there are deficiencies in the operations of outdoor sales operators, particularly in regard to pre-processing, refrigeration and temperature control.

To improve the quality of street food the environment center recommends of increasing the inspections as part of the monitoring of operators that handle and refrigerate large amounts of food products, for example.