Have you ever wondered how hygienic the kitchen of your favorite restaurant is? Now, Americans across the country can see health inspection ratings with the click of a button.
HDScores, best-known for its Yelp partnership that provides restaurant hygiene scores, has launched a new app that displays comprehensive health code information for a variety of establishments. From restaurants to gas stations to coffee shops, the app compiles easy to understand health reports from across the US for anywhere that serves food.
The app aggregates data from local health departments and employs an algorithm to score restaurants and all other food service establishments on a scale of zero to 100 percent. The closer a restaurant is to 100, the more hygienic the restaurant is. The app also shows any and all violations against the restaurant in order by date.
The company was inspired by personal stories of allergy sufferers who were tired of crossing their fingers every time they dined out, hoping it would not end in an emergency room visit.
“My son has a peanut allergy, and we have had the unfortunate experience of taking numerous trips to the ER to have him treated due to inadvertently eating food contaminated with peanuts. Dining out for us shouldn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience,” said Glynne Townsend, Partner, and COO of HDScores. “However, it is when the server assures us they will have the kitchen take care of it. Until now you had no idea of the kitchen’s ability to do so – now you do.”
Since 2012 the company has discovered 28 million reported health violations in the metropolitan population of the United States. In July 2018, the company used this information in a partnership with Yelp to include info from health inspection reports within its listings for restaurants.
After a positive reaction from consumers to the Yelp announcement, the HDScores team continued with developing the stand-alone app. As a result, the company is willing to bet that consumers will pay for it. The app is available in the iOS app store for a yearly subscription of $11.99 and a monthly subscription cost of $1.99.
However, restaurants have pushed back against the service, saying the numbers in the scores are dependent on the Department of Health (DOH) doing its job diligently, which is not always the case. Other operators question the fairness of widely publicizing years-old violations even if their current score reflects a clean environment. In response to these complaints, HDScores continues to defend its method for calculating the scores.
“It’s their performance being measured by professionals from the local health department,” Townsend said in an interview with Skift Table. “We’re just providing a platform to communicate that data.”
Following a number of high-profile food safety failures across restaurant brands, food safety and cleanliness are increasingly becoming an important deciding factor for whether consumers dine at an establishment. Beyond damaging a brand’s reputation, foodborne illnesses can also lead to devastating economic losses for a company.