September 27, 2016

Yelp Reviews Could Help Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Consumer reviews of restaurants and other facilities on Yelp could help track and prevent food poisoning outbreaks, according to a new study published in Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute looked at reviews on Yelp of 5,824 food establishments from 2005 to 2012, screening customer reviews for relevant keywords, then analyzed every review. This information was compared to data from the CDC for the same time period. The scientists found that illnesses reported on Yelp matched the CDC stats. The Yelp reviews were of 13,262 businesses closest to 29 colleges in fifteen states. Those 5,824 businesses were categorized as Food or Restaurants. Researchers constructed a keyword list using common foodborne illness terms such as "diarrhea", "vomiting", and "puking". … [Read more...]

FoodBorne Chicago Uses Twitter to Track Illness, Find Offenders

Can Twitter be used to identify sources of food poisoning ? FoodBorne Chicago, found success with a trial run and now Boston and New York are considering similar programs. FoodBorne Chicago is a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization with the goal of using technology to improve the lives. Using an algorithm, FoodBorne Chicago tracked tweets originating from the Chicago area that mentioned food poisoning. During the 10-month study period, March 2013–January 2014,  2,241 tweets mentioning food poisoning originated from the Chicago metropolitan area. Of those, 270 described specific instances of food poisoning, eight of whom said they sought medical attention. Project staffers replied to these tweets saying "Help us prevent this and report where you ate here … [Read more...]

New Twitter App Tracks Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Chicago

We've told you before about apps that can help keep you safe from food poisoning, and how Twitter may be playing a role in foodborne illess outbreak investigations. Now a company in Chicago has created a new Twitter app called Foodborne Chicago. The project is part of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, an organization "devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology." The app asks people who think they contracted food poisoning at a restaurant to fill out a form, which is sent to the Chicago Department of Public Health. The app also uses computer codes to search Twitter for anything relating to food poisoning in the Chicago area. People review the tweets and reply back to people who posted about them, asking them to fill out the web form. The form asks which restaurant the person … [Read more...]

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