Online Reports of Foodborne Illness Capture Foods Implicated in Official Foodborne Outbreak Reports

Elaine O. Nsoesie, Sheryl A. Kluberg, John S. Brownstein


In this study, we assessed reports of foodborne illness in foodservice reviews as a possible data source for disease surveillance. We observed that reports of foodborne illness on Yelp were sometimes extremely detailed. We also located clusters of reports for particular restaurants, some of which had health safety violations related to food handling and hygiene. Most importantly, we found that foods implicated in foodborne illness reports on Yelp correlated with foods implicated in outbreak reports from the CDC. This could be useful for identifying food vehicles for attribution and estimation of the extent of foodborne illness.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *