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Rats in Your Soup: Google Maps Adds CleanScores Ratings

Google Maps now integrates ratings from CleanScores, a website which shows you which establishments have failed food inspections. Now, when you search for a place to eat, if CleanScores has it in their database (which for now only includes San Francisco and LA), the Google Maps results will show you the violations the food inspectors discovered in that place.

From experience, I don’t think this is such a great idea, to expose people who don’t know anything about food inspections to raw data about them. I remember writing a story about a food establishment that had been shut down due to health code violations, and when I went to the health department’s website to look up other local eateries, I was shocked to discover that every place I liked to eat had some minor violations.

Even minor violations sound terrible, like mouse droppings and dead flies, but these are so commonplace that many normal, clean restaurants have these on their record, and they don’t get shut down. I don’t pretend to know why places that are on record as having mouse poo are okay, but the health inspectors seem to think so.

Either way, if these places are truly safe, then adding the data to Google Maps will only serve to frighten people, and those people have no context for what violations are no big deal (but sound terrible) and which ones they really need to be careful about before sitting down to eat. Merely listing the violations can sometimes be irresponsible and not at all helpful.

Still, once you understand that not all violations are created equal, the data is useful. Hopefully, Google Maps users will get the message quickly before they decide to stop eating anywhere, ever.

Image by Orin Optiglot under CC

November 14th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Rats in the soup, and other reasons to care about CleanScores. […]

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