Most of the time people will turn to the internet when looking for a new place to eat. Even in a smaller town, there are far too many choices to simply pick one and go, so online platforms like Yelp and Google can help people to make more informed choices. Unfortunately, when it comes to reviewing restaurants online, it seems as if the feedback that’s submitted is often far too biased and is actually calling food safety concerns into question.
Believe it or not, health officials are actually digging through Yelp reviews and Tweets to target the places that seem to not be measuring up to code. For example, consistent complaints about becoming sick after eating somewhere might trigger a surprise inspection, leaving consumers in an interesting position of power.
Is It Fair?
It’s been noted that above all other types of cuisine, Asian restaurants tend to get a bad rap when it comes to online criticism. Chinese food, in particular, is often viewed as dirty and as soon as someone becomes sick, they’re quick to blame last night’s meal. In reality, food illness symptoms can take time to develop, and it’s not always the last place you ate at that’s responsible for your current condition.
However as officials continue to review Yelp’s data, they see time and time again that ethnic restaurants are the target of the blame. What’s unfortunate is that sometimes, although not disproportionately so, these types of establishments tend to fail the minimum safety requirements as set forth by the food safety industry.
Reviews Can Change The World
It’s been mentioned that Yelp’s CEO thinks they can completely revamp the food safety world, and while that might be a little far-fetched, it does call into question just how we can use the idea of online reviews to alter how we approach other parts of life. Many of us have already seen how technology can impact everything from grocery shopping to how complex our vehicles are now, so is it really that odd to think that online feedback platforms could alter restaurant inspections?
Ultimately in order to use tools like Yelp as viable options when determining which establishments may need the most support, it’s crucial for industry experts to keep in mind the idea of user bias. While ethnic restaurants do get their fair share of complaints, it’s equally important to make sure that places with nothing but glowing reviews don’t get put at the bottom of the list in favor of investigating more “at risk” locations.
As the various ways in which we can submit feedback continue to grow, there may be a new tool on the horizon designed to specifically tackle this issue. In the meantime, remember that just because you’re feeling sick doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the restaurant you ate at last night. Negative reviews should perhaps be reserved for issues with visible cleanliness concerns or problems with personnel rather than targeting what happened after the fact.
Having been bitten by the writing bug at the young age of 6, Courtney gets to live her dream every day by creating content for a wide range of clients. When she’s not typing away at the computer, she loves spending time with her two sons in the Pacific NW.