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#64437 - 04 Nov 07 17:45 More JP misinformation
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
This is from the front page of the Sunday Jakarta Post and is just plain wrong. My comment is below in the next post.
not-so-sweet home

Sondang Grace Sirait

I was sitting in the waiting room of a local hospital lab when I received my not-so-sweet welcome-home surprise.

I'd undergone a blood test two hours earlier and was holding tightly the piece of paper containing my results. I unfolded the page and read the information printed on the green-over-white paper. It said typhus.

After spending the last three years in the United States, I'd been back in Indonesia for just three weeks -- and this news certainly was not the homecoming gift I'd dreamed of.

I was somewhat relieved to find why I had felt so ill for the past few days -- but any respite was short-lived.

"Consider yourself lucky," my doctor said. "I've had patients who had asthma attacks as soon as they got out of the airport, after returning home from abroad. It took you three weeks before you got sick."

I forced a faint smile. Luck would not let the lucky go through days of high fever, headaches, nausea and stomach problems, would it?

What also baffled me was that no-one in my circle of family and friends seemed shocked.

Take my brothers, for example, both of whom spent many years in the U.S. before relocating to Indonesia some time ago. Apparently they too were diagnosed with typhus upon their return to Indonesia. And their illnesses were blamed by their respective doctors -- as was my case -- on unhygienic food.

But their take on my diagnosis was simple. They said, "Don't worry, that's just Indonesia's way of welcoming you home".

Which is ironic. That the excitement of being home is joined so easily with the reality of becoming very sick.

As a food lover, I thoroughly enjoy trying the seemingly endless local delicacies Indonesia can offer -- be it on the streets, from malls or five-star hotels.

But the delicacies this country provides are found especially on the streets. That, to me, is what being home is all about.

The last time I returned home after a number of years abroad, I did the same: I dined out. I grew up in this country, I have adjusted to the food, and I have never had any really serious health problem. So what's the story?

If you followed Indonesia's local news stories covering the lead-up to the Lebaran holidays, you would have read some horrific stories about watered cows and chemically altered chickens.

You would have read about the insane holiday phenomenon at traditional markets that sees prices of cooking oil, rice and vegetables skyrocket. This holiday pricing not only affects Indonesians economically -- it sees our traditional cooking methods (using plenty of wonderful ingredients, rich oils and abundant spices) go right out the door.

During this period, the challenge for restaurateurs, caterers and chefs is how to meet their clients needs and expectations within budget.

In some cases, coping mechanisms may involve recycling cooking oil too many times and across too many differing dishes. In other cases it may see chefs being asked to use cheaper vegetables, more flour and less meat.

In any event, there is a renegade element to the concept, far more than ever, spurred by the fact this country still lacks regulations around food health and hygiene.

And this is concerning, to say the least. For many obvious reasons - but particularly because in this country, every single street in the capital, and perhaps across the archipelago, is not without a street food vendor, or 10.

Frankly, anyone can sell any food, any time, and from almost anywhere. And feeding to the notion that Indonesians, especially Jakartans, like to eat out, there will always be people who buy those foods, including our visitors who might make a street purchase out of curiosity or naivete.

Our problem is -- and this is the case I'm trying to make -- we have no safeguard mechanism to ensure whatever food we consume isn't hygienically compromised.

In the U.S., local government agents periodically tour restaurants and shops checking on foods sold. It was during such an operation in South Philadelphia's Kampung Indonesia area during the summer of 2006 that many homemade, boxed meals were found not up to government standards.

In the end, the vendors cleaned-up their acts and started improving the quality of their products.

Perhaps this kind of detailed attention is what Jakarta needs, more than the annual sweeping-out of expired canned foods in stores.

Or if that's too much to ask, perhaps the government, and I am writing this with a special plea to Governor Fauzi Bowo -- maybe the government can come up with their own approach to show they do care about the health and safety of their constituents.

At the very least the government must recognize food health is an issue. Because addressing this problem will see positive reactions from people in Jakarta and across the nation. Positive reactions that would no doubt out-last the Rp 50,000 Indonesians received after Fauzi's "open house" this past week.

So, what do you say, Governor?

_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#64438 - 04 Nov 07 17:49 Re: More JP misinformation [Re: riccardo]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Why the ranting about food "health and hygiene" when talking about Typhus? This gal needs to get a new doctor if he told her that Typhus came from eating dirty food.

Typhoid Fever, however, is caused by eating food that is contaminated with fecal matter (shit, tai) from infected humans or animals.

Typhus is contracted by close contact with rats, or more specifically, rat fleas.

Both are common in Jakarta, but you can only get Typhus via food if you are eating uncooked, infected rat fleas, which are big enough to see -- thus somewhat unlikely.

One good way to prevent such illnesses is by educating yourself (there are these nice search devices on the Internet called google and yahoo) and others and NOT by spreading misinformation via the mass media.
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#64441 - 05 Nov 07 04:34 Re: More JP misinformation [Re: riccardo]
Dilli Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 26 Feb 06
Posts: 8044
Loc: Nearest Bar
Or eating in a street Warung where the fleas are present due to the presence of rats who dine out on the food remains left by unhygenic Warung owners.

"Body lice are common in areas in which people live in overcrowded, dirty conditions, with few opportunities to wash themselves or their clothing."
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#64445 - 05 Nov 07 06:29 Re: More JP misinformation [Re: Dilli]
Dilli Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 26 Feb 06
Posts: 8044
Loc: Nearest Bar
This is what you must look out for. (This one was caught near Okusi Mansions)


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#64450 - 05 Nov 07 07:33 Re: More JP misinformation [Re: Dilli]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: Dilli
Or eating in a street Warung where the fleas are present due to the presence of rats who dine out on the food remains left by unhygenic Warung owners.


Sure, as I said it's possible under some circumstances. BUT if the the doctor said "unhygienic food" and she talks about quality ingredients and such, they are talking about contaminated food. They are talking about Typhoid Fever. Typhus has nothing directly to do with food. Yes you could get it at a warung with rats, but you could also get it at a school or an office or a house or anywhere that you find dirty rats running around -- there is no direct correlation to "eating unhygienic food" and certainly nothing to do with cheap cooking oil or cutting corners on quality ingredients.

To put it another way, one could argue that when there is a rainstorm and I'm outside I get wet. Does that mean if someone pours a cup of water on you that there is a rainstorm???

It's a logical fallacy and this is what irks me with the whole medical understanding issue in this country, or lack of it by not only citizens and mass media but the doctors as well.

_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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