Ukraine: Outbreak of food poisoning hits Kyiv

by Dariya Orlova, Kyiv Post Staff Writer
Sep 04 2008, 00:18

Source of Article:  http://www.kyivpost.com/nation/29580/

 

 

A street vendor at one of Kyiv’s many kebab and shawarma stands prepares a meal for the next customer on Sept. 2. An outbreak of food poisoning has health authorities warning people about the hazards of buying food on the street, citing poor food storage,

Traditional Middle Eastern kebabs and shawarmas have gained in popularity among Ukrainians as fast street food. But a recent outbreak of poisoning has raised questions about the way the food is prepared, the quality of its ingredients and the hygiene of its cooks.

Nearly two dozen people, including two children, were hospitalized with food poisoning in Kyiv’s Desnyansky district last week. Ten were diagnosed with salmonellosis, a dangerous bacterial infection that affects the digestive tract and occasionally other parts of the body. Eleven others were diagnosed with gastroenterocolitis, or stomach inflammation. All of them ate poor­quality shawarma purchased from the same kiosk outside Kyiv’s Lisova metro station, according to an Emergencies Ministry report.

“People came in over the course of three days. They all complained of vomiting and sudden fever onsets. Most of the poisoned are in intensive care, but some have started recovering,” the duty nurse at Kyiv’s Hospital #9 told 15 Minutes daily, a Russian­language sister publication of the Kyiv Post.

Poor food storage conditions, undercooked food and breach of basic health standards caused the infection outbreak, according to the results of an epidemiologic investigation.

Nataliya Udovenko, one of the victims, told Segodnya daily newspaper that she bought shawarma and eventually fell ill.

“On Monday I ate shawarma with cheese … the next day with meat. I got sick the same day. My head, kidneys and heart were aching. The emergency workers said it was acute poisoning and prescribed pills for me. My kidneys are still ailing. I can’t eat anything,” a tearful Udovenko told journalists.

The kiosk where people bought the infected food, has since been dismantled and its owners fined Hr 282 (a little more than $50), said Iryna Kozlova, Kyiv’s chief health inspector.

Kozlova also said that the local health service banned the kiosk from selling shawarma two weeks before the incident, but the owners ignored the order.

“We urge Kyivans not to buy shawarma, hot dogs and other food in kiosks,” Kozlova said.

“In July and August this year, the health service inspected 710 kiosks. Almost half were found with no operational permits from the health service. And we also discovered violations of public health codes,” the inspector added.

The poisoning case was covered widely by local media, but shawarma vendors are unlikely to abandon their simple culinary trade. Kyivans will keep buying street food because it’s cheap and fast.

At Kharkivskiy market on Kyiv’s left bank, two shawarma kiosks were open as usual, with clients standing in line for their shawarma sandwich.

The sellers said they had heard nothing about the poisoning case and that business was not affected.

“We have as many customers as ever. I can’t complain,” said a middle­aged shawarma salesman who declined to give his name.

“Our kiosk has been selling shawarma on the same spot for five years,” he added. Two men waiting to buy shawarma said “It’s a good and tasty snack with beer.”

Meanwhile, those who claim to have had bad experiences with street food, are turning away.

“I bought a hot dog on Kontraktova Square, but when I began eating it I almost choked on a piece of glass hidden in the hot dog dressing,” said Nazar, a Kyiv resident.


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