Mecklenburg County has found a new use for its restaurant health inspection data by partnering with Yelp to post their scores alongside the location’s menu, restaurant customer reviews and photos.
The new layer of data means customers in Charlotte can look for restaurants with high Yelp star ratings but also check what government health inspectors have found in the kitchen on recent visits.
The Yelp app and website began including the health department data for Charlotte-area restaurants earlier this month. About 20 cities or counties nationwide are also providing food safety and health inspection reports to Yelp. Others in North Carolina include Cumberland, Orange and Wake counties, according to Yelp.
Yelp’s mobile app shows only a restaurant’s numerical score out of 100. The review site’s full website allows users to read about specific health and safety violations and the inspector’s notes after searching for places to eat.
Mecklenburg County’s health department has been posting public inspection reports and restaurant scores for the past 10 years on its own website and database. Restaurant scores on the county’s website can be searched and sorted by restaurant name, inspection date, overall score, or zip code.
The county’s data showing inspection dates, scores and outcomes will be updated weekly to Yelp results.
Susan Cole, program manager for environmental health food and facilities in Mecklenburg County’s health department, said the new partnership aligns with priorities to protect the public’s health and safety.
“We hope that by putting inspections and health ratings on Yelp people feel more confident about the places they choose to eat,” Cole said.
Yelp’s push to include health department scores and inspection reports started in 2013 in New York City and San Francisco. Computer and software developers for those cities and Yelp, Inc. created the program with the goal of making government data more accessible and user-friendly. The open data project can be used by other restaurant-listing businesses.