Published January 18, 2013
The next time you're searching Yelp for where to eat, you may notice a number next to the review.
The online review site announced it's working with city governments to add hygiene scores alongside consumer reviews.
"While ratings and reviews are incredibly powerful ways to guide spending decisions, we're always looking for new ways to supplement the information to provide a better experience for consumers," Yelp's co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement.
Yelp said that San Francisco eateries have already begun getting hygiene ratings on reviews, while New York City establishments will get the numbered-rating "in the weeks ahead." Yelp also announced plans to incorporate data from Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago are in the near future.
The scores are based on a 100-point scale taken from city inspection data and developed in partnership with local and federal government officials. When a reader clicks on the score, Yelp will show a breakdown of health violations and previous inspection dates for the restaurant.
David-Michel Davies the executive director of The Webby Awards--a company that honors web-based companies --told FoxNews.com that the move showcases what's to come in the future as data sources and databases- both civic and private - come online.
"Today Yelp can integrate health scores, but soon there may be all types of other data sets - traffic information, seating availability, etc. - that can be integrated as well, ultimately giving regular people the information they need exactly when they need it."
While the hygiene rating is meant to help diners make more informed choices about the restaurants they visit, not all owners think it's a good idea.
“You can have an A grade then fail an inspection, but while waiting for the tribunal keep posting an A — while someone will have a ‘grade pending’ [and] may actually be fighting to change a B to an A,” Jeffrey Bank, CEO of the Alicart Restaurant Group which owns Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real Barbecue, told the New York Post.
Spokesman Andrew Moesel, with the New York Restaurant Association, which has been objecting to the letter-grade system since it was established in July 2010, told the Post that the online information on health inspections is "often out of date or has nothing to do with food safety.”
In San Francisco, many applaud efforts by the local government to make the information more readily available. But some have questioned why Ed Lee, the city's mayor, doesn't require restaurants post the information prominently in their establishments in the first place. The city's restaurants are only required to produce the the information if asked by a customer.
Yet more information is good and users will no doubt appreciate the extra information. But a word of warning: Some health reports have stomach churning details behind low health grades.
"Ultimately, it just gives more value and utility to the scoring system, and hopefully more motivation for those C grade restaurants to clean up their act," Davies says.