Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Yucky Part On Eating Out In Saudi Arabia

Ever since I've seen how these people handled and served their food in these small restaurants, or what the locals called here in Saudi Arabia, "Boofiah", I've really lost interest in eating in some of them. People working in such establishments don't have any idea about hygiene and cleanliness.

Here they serve mostly sandwiches, drinks like sodas and fruit juices in tetra packs, but some also have Shawarma, a rolled sandwich (that looks almost like the Mexican Burrito), or Paratha, a flat, fried dough with different fillings and roasted chicken called Maquina, just like the one in the photo on the left. They are actually quite delicious.

One of the first things I've noticed, was some of the people working in boofiahs do not wear plastic gloves when handling food, they're touching the food with their bare hands. You don't know where those hands came from. Some of the people who cooked the food are even the one who take the money when you pay, the same hand that they used to handle your food.

On one occasion, I bought a paratah in a boofiah near my apartment, I saw the cook kneading the dough on a dirty counter top, I immediately lost my appetite. And just a couple of months ago, in Balad here in Jeddah, when both my friend and I were eating out in a boofiah (which I thought was clean), I really can't believe what I saw, a guy working at the boofiah profusely spraying insecticide exactly where the foods are. I think he was trying to kill more than just the bug. What was he thinking?

There's a lot of illnesses you can get from eating contaminated food, but the most common of all is Salmonellosis or popularly known as Salmonella Food Poisoning and Escherichia coli Infection or E.coli and many others. It's no joke, we are talking about our health here, so you better be careful with what you put in your mouth.

So if you still want to eat from these boofiahs because you don't have any choice, or may be because of some other reasons, I think the best thing to do first, is let others buy ahead of you and then observe, so that you would know if they are handling the food properly.

NOTE: This post does not in any way intend to degrade anyone or any food establishments, especially the boofiahs. There are a lot of very good and clean restaurants around Saudi Arabia to go to, depending on your budget. Food Contamination happens not just in Saudi Arabia, but everywhere. It's just that boofiahs have to make sure that the food they are selling to the public are clean and will not make us consumers sick.