Yelp To Include Health Dept. Ratings For Restaurants In Some Cities

Here is an example of what the San Francisco health inspection scores look like on Yelp.

Here is an example of what the San Francisco health inspection scores look like on Yelp.

While restaurant owners and customers quibble over the veracity and worth of reviews posted on Yelp, the site will soon be adding some information that is both helpful to consumers and harder to dispute — health department ratings.

First reported by the NY Post, then confirmed on the Yelp blog, the online review site says it plans on adding health inspection information for restaurants in San Francisco and New York City in the next few weeks, with Chicago and Philadelphia to follow.

The reviews that are currently live for some San Francisco restaurants included detailed data on violations and scores. The post reports that, at least at first, the NYC restaurants will only feature the letter grade given out by city health inspectors.

Though these letter grades are already required to be posted in prominent positions at the front of each eatery, some are concerned that the mere “A” or “B” might be misleading.

“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,” said the CEO of a company that owns a couple of popular Manhattan restaurants. “It’s not as simple as A, B and C.”

The NYC Health Department tells the Post, “We’re pleased that Yelp is making our grades available to even more consumers via their Web site, and encourage other companies to use our data by visiting NYC’s open data site.”

In its blog post, Yelp cites a recent study that found that when consumers know more about restaurant hygiene scores, the number of hospitalizations due to foodborne illness drops. This same study found that requiring restaurants to post their health inspection scores in conspicuous locations leads to cleaner eateries in general.

The health inspection scores, as they are rolled out, will be listed on each Yelp page right under the phone number and URL for the restaurant. Clicking on the score, at least for the San Francisco restaurants, provides detailed notes like the ones seen above.

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