Yelp Goes Nationwide with Restaurant Hygiene Scores

Few if any restaurant patrons want to book a reservation at an eatery considered to be dirty. Yelp realizes that and is now making it much easier for restaurant patrons to find out whether a restaurant they might like to dine at, received a position review during its most recent health inspection.

Starting today, Yelp is providing hygiene scores for eateries in California, New York, Washington, D.C, Illinois and Texas. The company is planning to roll out its new feature over the months ahead and eventually cover more than 750,000 restaurants across the nation in large metropolitan areas.

Although reports from health inspections are not a secret, finding them is often times difficult. They often are posted deep within the website of municipal governments, or are taped up in a far corner of a restaurant.

An executive with Yelp said the idea was to take the information that is nearly hidden to the naked eye and put it on Yelp where restaurant-goers already are trying to decide where to eat out next and this will help with the context of the decision to be made.

For that to happen, Yelp has worked together with city governments to create a standard for open data known as the “Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification.” Cities can now use the LIVES platform to post their reports for hygiene inspection. A company spokesperson said the idea for this it to spur on local government to make data standardized and put into a format that consumers can understand.

However, that can be time consuming and not all cities provide the necessary info. Therefore Yelp augments the data it has with HDScores, which is a startup that aggregates, then processes and distributes inspection data of restaurants from both private and public sources.

Yelp began displaying scores for hygiene inspections at restaurants in San Francisco, its headquarters, in 2013. One professor who studies food safety said that the efforts by Yelp could help the consumer make better choices about where to eat.

The professor said that some of the information you can get when showing up to eat at a particular restaurant, but for most people, once they arrive they are not likely to change their decision and Yelp allows the consumer to see important data prior to deciding where they will eat.

This also creates another incentive for the restaurant owners to make sure the best practices for hygiene are being followed.