Restaurant review site, Yelp, has just announced that it will be adding health inspection scores to its restaurant reviews.
Currently, the program is only active in California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington, DC. However, Yelp says it hopes to roll out the hygiene score information to other states in the near future.
Yelp has partnered with a company called HDScores (Health Department Scores) that offers and online database of health inspection scores and reports for the restaurant industry.
In a recent blog post, Yelp’s Senior VP for Public Policy, Luther Lowe noted that health inspections have been conducted for decades. However, the information is not typically very accessible to the average consumer.
“Unfortunately, this information is often buried on clunky ‘dot gov’ websites beyond the easy reach of consumers,” says Lowe. “Or equally inconvenient, it’s accessible in the offline world, displayed somewhere in the physical business, and not always obvious to the diner.”
“Posting restaurant hygiene scores prominently on Yelp leads to a 12% decrease in purchase intentions for restaurants with poor scores relative to those with higher scores.”
Lowe also notes that hospitalizations for foodborne illnesses go down when consumers are provided better access to restaurant hygiene scores. He sites a study by the Los Angeles restaurant industry that also showed that better access to scores improved overall health practices in businesses.
While this may all seem like good news for consumers, it certainly comes with some risks for businesses. This is especially relevant for those that earn less than satisfactory health ratings.
Citing a different study, Lowe reports that “posting restaurant hygiene scores prominently on Yelp leads to a 12% decrease in purchase intentions for restaurants with poor scores relative to those with higher scores.”
Hopefully, this will serve as additional motivation for restaurants to maintain high standards for health and safety.