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Government Medicine The Internet

Yelp Reviews Help NYC Health Department Find and Close Dirty Restaurants 64

An anonymous reader writes with news about a study that investigated the effectiveness of Yelp reviews in pinpointing the source of foodborne illnesses. "In 2012, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that residents weren't turning to the city's free 311 service to make such complaints, but rather they were reporting their experiences in Yelp reviews. So the CDC, in collaboration with the New York City DOHMH, Yelp, and Columbia University, conducted a nine-month long research into the effectiveness of using online reviews to identify sources of foodborne illnesses. The study discovered 468 actionable complaints, 97% of which hadn't been officially reported to the city, and analyzed roughly 294,000 Yelp restaurant reviews. Subsequent investigations on suspected restaurants turned up evidence of bare-handed food handling, cross-contamination, or even the presence of mice and cockroaches. The study concluded that providing the public with more options for reporting complaints about restaurants, particularly in the social media sphere, would help in the identification and possible closure of sources of foodborne illnesses."
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Yelp Reviews Help NYC Health Department Find and Close Dirty Restaurants

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @08:37AM (#47073413)

    Bare-handed food handling is fine to me, as a consumer. If we're not talking about a cashier handling your money, then walking over to the food line to get your order ready, as long as people are washing their hands regularly, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Keeping the sick employees home without them being afraid of calling in and getting fired seems to be a greater issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:16AM (#47073647)

    Rubber foodservice gloves are not magical, and using them does not instantly and permanently make your hands clean. The cleanliness problem in restaurants has very little to do with bacteria that comes directly from humans, it's cross contamination between cooked and uncooked foods. If I handle raw chicken with my gloves, then use those same gloves to put together your sandwich, the sandwich will be covered in bacteria from the raw chicken.

    I worked in food service for years, and this is a legitimate problem, and gloves tend to make it worse. Most restaurants are staffed with immigrants, many of whom come from countries and cultures with vastly different sanitation standards. In restaurants that force everyone to wear gloves, those people tend to put on a pair of gloves when they get to work, and take off that same pair at the end of the day. I've seen cooks go to the bathroom wearing gloves, smoke a cigarette wearing gloves, eat their lunch wearing gloves, and so on. If you don't force people to wear gloves but instead enforce a very detailed handwashing policy, things tend to be much more sanitary.

  • fake reviews (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BradMajors ( 995624 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @11:29AM (#47074551)

    The problem with using yelp reviews is some of the reviews are fake. Yelp staffers have been known to write negative reviews for companies that don't pay yelp.

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