Document Detail

Using online reviews by restaurant patrons to identify unreported cases of foodborne illness - new york city, 2012-2013.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24848215     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
While investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease associated with a restaurant, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) noted that patrons had reported illnesses on the business review website Yelp ( that had not been reported to DOHMH. To explore the potential of using Yelp to identify unreported outbreaks, DOHMH worked with Columbia University and Yelp on a pilot project to prospectively identify restaurant reviews on Yelp that referred to foodborne illness. During July 1, 2012-March 31, 2013, approximately 294,000 Yelp restaurant reviews were analyzed by a software program developed for the project. The program identified 893 reviews that required further evaluation by a foodborne disease epidemiologist. Of the 893 reviews, 499 (56%) described an event consistent with foodborne illness (e.g., patrons reported diarrhea or vomiting after their meal), and 468 of those described an illness within 4 weeks of the review or did not provide a period. Only 3% of the illnesses referred to in the 468 reviews had also been reported directly to DOHMH via telephone and online systems during the same period. Closer examination determined that 129 of the 468 reviews required further investigation, resulting in telephone interviews with 27 reviewers. From those 27 interviews, three previously unreported restaurant-related outbreaks linked to 16 illnesses met DOHMH outbreak investigation criteria; environmental investigation of the three restaurants identified multiple food-handling violations. The results suggest that online restaurant reviews might help to identify unreported outbreaks of foodborne illness and restaurants with deficiencies in food handling. However, investigating reports of illness in this manner might require considerable time and resources.
Cassandra Harrison; Mohip Jorder; Henri Stern; Faina Stavinsky; Vasudha Reddy; Heather Hanson; HaeNa Waechter; Luther Lowe; Luis Gravano; Sharon Balter;
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report     Volume:  63     ISSN:  1545-861X     ISO Abbreviation:  MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep.     Publication Date:  2014 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2014-05-22     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7802429     Medline TA:  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  441-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
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From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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