Online restaurant reviews identify outbreaks of undetected foodborne illness

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 27 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3560
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle, USA

Health officials in New York City were able to discover previously undetected foodborne illness outbreaks by tracking comments about restaurants appearing on the business review website, Yelp.

The city’s public health officials got the idea of using Yelp reviews when, during an outbreak investigation, they noticed that restaurant patrons had reported illnesses on the website that had not been reported to the department of health.

Lead author Cassandra Harrison of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and her colleagues describe the results of a pilot project using Yelp reviews for outbreak detection in the 23 May issue of the US Centers …

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