Public health officials use review site to track food safety problems.
You may enjoy using Yelp for reviews of local businesses, places to go, and of course for restaurants. Now new studies show that Yelp’s restaurant reviews may be useful for more than finding tasty food.
Two recent studies show that Yelp reviews can help track food poisoning outbreaks, and even find links to area restaurants with spotty food handling practices, according to USA Today. The studies show that tracking Yelp can provide an early warning for health officials in trying to identify and contain such outbreaks.
In one study, Columbia University researchers working with New York public health agencies looked at thousands of Yelp restaurant reviews from 2013 to 2013. Their study uncovered 900 previously unknown cases of food-borne illnesses that should have triggered food safety follow-up investigations. Three of the cases were linked to sixteen illnesses that would have prompted public health investigations. When agencies did follow-up, they found ongoing food safety violations at the three restaurants.
In the other study, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital looked at 5,800 Yelp reviews from fiftenee states and found that reports of illnesses linked to restaurants closely approximated the food poisoning data tracked by the Centers for Disease Control.
The researchers say that scanning Twitter and Facebook posts can also be useful in tracking food poisoning outbreaks, and notes that Chicago officials already interact with twitter users for information sharing about problems at local restaurants.
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