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Yelp Adds Restaurant Health-Inspection Scores to Website

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Yelp Adds Restaurant Health-Inspection Scores to Website Reviews
An "A" health inspection grade at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Yelp will add inspection data to its reviews, which would give consumers more information about the restaurants they frequent while stepping up pressure on establishments that receive low marks. Photographer: Sipa via AP Images

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Yelp Inc., the business review site, will add health scores to information it provides about restaurants, part of a push to be more useful to consumers and local governments while promoting public well-being.

Through a partnership with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Yelp created a system that lets cities upload inspection data to its website, and plans to tag health grades to reviews in the Bay Area city and New York in coming weeks, the company said in a statement. Lee will present the proposal today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, working to embolden other cities to release health details on the site.

The added data would give consumers more information about the restaurants they frequent while stepping up pressure on establishments that receive low marks. In Los Angeles County, a requirement that restaurants display health grades at their entrances led to a 13 percent decline in hospitalizations for food-borne illnesses, Yelp said, citing a 2005 study in the Journal of Environmental Health.

“The open-data standard will have a good impact on society,” Yelp Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Stoppelman said on a conference call yesterday. “In the weeks ahead we hope to have all of San Francisco’s restaurants online. We’ll then begin migrating New York data online as well.”

Yelp, which displays consumer reviews of local businesses from pizza shops to plumbers on its website, expects Philadelphia to follow in adding restaurants’ health scores soon. Yelp, based in San Francisco, fell 1.2 percent to $20.36 at yesterday’s close in New York.

More Visibility

The change may mean more visibility of inspection data in San Francisco, where restaurants are required to post or make such reports available, yet don’t have to publicly display their scores. Accompanying restaurants’ health ratings on Yelp will be a link to a full report that logs all inspections, including a list of violations.

Releasing government data to the public in a more understandable fashion has been a mission of Lee. In October, he proposed that the city hire a chief data officer, charged with adding data sets -- local transportation information, for example -- to 200 that are already public. San Francisco has used the DataSF website as a conduit for releasing more information to the public.

“By making often hard-to-find government information more widely available to innovative companies like Yelp, we can make government more transparent and improve public-health outcomes for our residents through the power of technology,” Lee said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Kucera in San Francisco at dkucera6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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