Yelp adds health inspection info to restaurant reviews - HD Scores

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The ability to read reviews on whether a restaurant or bar is up to snuff has greatly enhanced the dining experience. Want to know whether the key lime pie is any good at a certain spot? Yelp is usually your go-to resource.

Now the crowd-sourced site is adding something that may be just as vital to you when it comes to where you’re eating: health inspection information. Starting this week, the health scores of restaurants in California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington, D.C. is being rolled out, the San Francisco, California-based company said on social media.

Yelp introduces health scores with restaurant reviews

When the feature comes to even more restaurants nationwide, hygienic info about pest infestations, safety recommendations and more will be at your disposal, just like that review that lets you know if the trout almondine is worth ordering.

Yelp is partnering with HDScores to bring the health scores to its users. The company says it has taken data from hundreds of government websites in more than 42 states to compile health scores that can be used by Yelp.

“We have the data, yet the average consumer does not know the difference between a category 1 and a category 5 violation on a restaurant inspection report so we had to make it easy to understand, giving birth to the HD Score,” the company says on its website.

“The idea here is to take this information living on clunky dot-gov websites and put it inside Yelp where you’re probably already trying figure out where to go eat, and see it in the context of that decision,” Luther Lowe, the company’s senior VP of public policy, told CNNMoney.

But Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in San Francisco, says Yelp is toeing a dangerous line that could hurt the restaurant industry. Not all health violations are the same, she says.

“Those scores don’t tell the whole picture,” Borden tells the Washington Post. “There are infractions that people get dinged on that are quite minor.” She says Yelp is “coloring it as a public information thing. I think it’s just another attempt to drive more people to their site.”

Here are 3 ways to know whether a restaurant is clean

How are the bathrooms? If an eatery’s most private space is not up to snuff, you may want to reconsider whether this is the place for you to spend your hard-earned money.

Inspect your glass & utensils: A telltale sign of whether a restaurant’s kitchen is understaffed is whether your place setting — plates, forks, knives, etc. — is clean. If you see spots or food debris, you know something’s not right.

Is your eating area greasy? If your eating area, the seat, tabletop and surrounding area still has residue from the previous party, that might give you all the info you need to know about the place’s hygiene. Better yet, if you ask the waiter/waitress to wipe your table and it’s greasier than before, that lets you know they’re not using a clean rag.

What are some ways you know whether a restaurant is clean? Let us know on Clark’s Facebook or Twitter.

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