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Yelp will set the hygiene score for restaurants in the US



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The last thing anyone who reserves a table reservation for is to eat in a filthy restaurant. Yelp understands this and makes it easy to find out if this fun new tapas joint got a clean health certificate at its last inspection. On Tuesday, Yelp will deliver "Hygiene Scores" for restaurants in New York, California.

Texas, Illinois and Washington, DC. The company plans to expand the feature over the coming months and eventually cover 750,000 restaurants in major cities across the country.

Although health inspection reports are not a secret, finding them can be difficult. They are often published on a city government website or in a corner of the restaurant. "The idea here is to store this information on bulky dot-gov web pages and put it in Yelp, where you're probably already trying to figure out where to eat, and see it in the context of that decision," said Luther Lowe Senior Vice President of Public Policy of the Company, said CNNMoney.

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To achieve this, Yelp worked with city councils to create an open data standard called Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification. LIVES allows cities to publish hygiene inspection reports on the platform. "The idea behind it is to encourage local governments to standardize data to make it digestible for consumers," Lowe said.

But that too can take a long time, and not every city provided information. For example, Yelp is expanding its dataset with the help of HDScores, a startup that aggregates, processes and distributes restaurant inspection data from public and private sources.

Yelp [ YELP ) began issuing hygiene testing for restaurants in his hometown of San Francisco in 201

3. Robert Scharff, a senior lecturer at Ohio State University, studies economics Yelp's efforts could help consumers make better decisions about where to have their evening meal.

"They received some information when they appeared in the restaurant," he said. "But the problem is that once you get there, you've already made your decision and it's very unlikely to change your mind." Yelp allows them to see this information before deciding where to eat should."

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Scharff said that Yelps move creates an added incentive for restaurants to make sure they follow best practices and keep order. But Yelp could do more to help consumers by providing an additional context about what a good or bad rating means, he said.

The challenge, however, is that health examinations vary from city to city and state to state and can be influenced by the person conducting the inspection, said food safety expert Jeff Nelken.

"The system must have some kind of supervision to keep everyone honest," he said.

Lowe acknowledges that there is room for improvement, and his findings will not necessarily provide a comparison between apples and apples. But it is a start.

CNNMoney (New York) First published July 24, 2018: 12:01 ET


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