Yelp Expands Restaurant Health Rating Initiative

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Yelp today announced that it will further expand its information on health ratings on restaurant listings. While the review platform developed its own digital standard for restaurant hygiene (called the “Local Inspector Value-entry Specification” or ) in 2013 from “Technology Services of the Cities of San Francisco and New York”, it is now expanding today its partnership with the firm Hazel Analytical. Yelp and Hazel teamed up last year, and together the LIVES metric now incorporates “health department data from 48 U.S. states,” plus Toronto and Vancouver.

“The expansion of Yelp’s Health Scores program comes at a time when people are returning to indoor dining as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, health inspections restart from the first pandemic pause and restaurants are adopting more dining safety measures like contactless payments and virtual menus,” Yelp wrote in a blog post.

You may have seen health scores on your city’s Yelp restaurant pages. But in recent years, Yelp has become even more proactive in rating restaurants, going so far as to estimate scores in cases where a city might not issue a letter grade or numerical score. Yelp listings for restaurants in Los Angeles and Chicago also include preview files.

Still, some in the restaurant industry have criticized Yelp’s efforts. Cities and states vary widely in their food inspection rating, with some assigning an alphabetical or numerical rating, and others opting for a pass/fail system. Restaurants have complained about inaccurate or outdated scores on their listings. news from mercury that restaurants in Bay Area counties that use a pass/fail system were surprised when Yelp’s algorithm generated its own health inspection score for their businesses.

Yelp calculates health inspection scores in three ways: directly using a score provided by a city’s health department, generating a score from raw health data, or using an estimated health score generated by the health department. Hazel’s algorithm. The third option — which Hazel uses by default in cases where cities don’t publish health inspection results — leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation. And like news from mercury points out, restaurants that, rightly or not, have low LIVES-generated scores on Yelp could see their business dry up significantly.

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