Monday, February 15, 2016

URBAN IDEAS - Social Media and Restaurant Inspections

"Up to code?  An algorithm is helping Chicago health officials predict restaurant safety violations" PBS NewsHour 2/12/2016


SUMMARY:  In Chicago, the Department of Public Health has partnered with the city's data team to improve restaurant inspections by using analytics and social media to predict and detect which establishments are more likely to have potential food safety violations.  NewsHour's Megan Thompson reports as part of the series, Urban Ideas.

MEGAN THOMPSON (NewsHour):  Mark Chmielewski is the Executive Chef at Latinicity, a hip new eatery in downtown Chicago.  At this sit-down restaurant, bar, and at 10 food counters customers can watch their sushi being rolled, burgers flipped, and burritos wrapped.

But what they don’t see are the steps behind the scenes that ensure the safety of their food.

MARK CHMIELEWSKI:  All stations have hand sinks.  Probably the most biggest thing is washing your hands.  All the fish gets iced down.

MEGAN THOMPSON:  Chmielewski oversees systems and procedures to ensure that all the food served here is fresh.

MARK CHMIELEWSKI:  Everything up off the ground.  Up off the floor.

MEGAN THOMPSON:  Temperature is key.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends hot food is served at least 140 degrees.  Cold food must be refrigerated 40 degrees and below.  And dirty dishes must be washed in hot water close to boiling.

MARK CHMIELEWSKI:  It’s paramount, to have, you know, great food safety with a lot of different systems in place to prevent the public and your staff from becoming sick from food borne illness.  That can be devastating. It can shut you down. Fast.

MEGAN THOMPSON:  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from food borne illness…from all sources of contaminated food.  128-Thousand are hospitalized – and 3-thousand die.

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