Beware of flavoured drinks, ice-golas sold on the streets

We have all been told the story of ‘Thirsty Crow’ time and again but what do we do when we are parched? Hop by a shop and buy a drink to quench our thirst.

But there is something that we are forgetting. The onset of summer can be identified with colourful drinks lining the shops and kids sipping the flavoured ice-golas.

Yes, the infamous pushcart sellers who lure us with chilled lemonades, sharbath and sugarcane juice. It is that time of the year where such vendors experience a sudden surge in their business. It is a double bonus if they are in prime locations like market or religious shrines.

We all have to accept, at some point of time, we would have surely halted at one such shop to satiate our water needs. Now let me straightaway get to the point. Offered for a nominal price, say Rs 15, not often do we find them hygienic. There have been several cases of health conditions like diarrhoea, urinary tract infection, stomach pain and fever reported in the recent past due to addition of contaminated items.

Have you ever wondered from where the frozen ice is procured? When I enquired with a few such vendors, they maintained that they utilise fresh water to make it themselves or are supplied by someone else. On the flipside, I hear gory tales about the source of ice chunks.

One such seller revealed the tactics that his fellow vendors use to mint money. The popular narrative is that they are unloaded from the freezer boxes where the corpses are preserved. Certainly sounds scary and yucky, right? But do not just stop right here, go ahead and read on.

He warns me of another trick. Empty freezer boxes when not in use for a long time leads to ice formation with the minimal available moisture content. This looks legit, with the entire city reeling under water scarcity, who will use the resource to make ice? Even if used, God knows if it is made of potable water.

If you are someone who fancies sharbath, beware of the kind that the sellers use. Not everyone purchases it from a valid vendor and rather tend to utilise even if they are well past the expiry date.
As the roadside vendors are unauthorised, many are unaware of the hygiene norms that if not adhered to may lead to epidemic outbreak. Now, think twice before you choose a cola from a pushcart seller.

Bhavani Prabhakar