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CHICAGO – In one year since it was first launched, Foodborne Chicago helped hundreds of Chicagoans report food poisoning to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), resulting in 150 restaurant and food service inspections conducted by the city last year - inspections that otherwise may not have happened. Foodborne Chicago is a web application that uses Twitter to identify persons who believe they may have food poisoning, then flags those public tweets with CDPH for possible follow up.
“This proves how new technologies can help solve even the oldest of problems,” said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair. “Thanks to Foodborne Chicago, we now have the capability to identify food-borne illness that may not otherwise have been reported. Foodborne Chicago also gives us the capability to hear about potential foodborne outbreaks earlier, enabling our team to respond more quickly and prevent more people from becoming ill.”
Foodborne Chicago identifies public tweets from residents and visitors about food poisoning, then replies privately, providing assistance for the individual to file an online complaint through 311. An alert is then sent automatically to CDPH’s Food Protection Program, which investigates the complaint and updates any actions through Chicago’s 311 Service Tracker.
Last year, Foodborne Chicago classified over 2,600 tweets related to food poisoning in Chicago which led to 233 food poisoning reports submitted to CDPH. From those reports an additional 150 restaurant and food service inspections occurred.
CDPH is committed to maintaining the safety of food bought, sold or prepared for public consumption in Chicago by carrying out science-based inspections of all retail food establishments. These inspections promote public health in areas of food safety and sanitation and prevent the occurrence of food-borne illness. CDPH's sanitarians inspect retail food establishments such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, convenience stores, hospitals, nursing homes, day care facilities, shelters, schools, and temporary food service events. Inspections focus on food handling practices, product temperatures, personal hygiene, facility maintenance and pest control.
Foodborne Chicago was created by Smart Chicago and civic tech developers in partnership with CDPH. More information on Foodborne Chicago is available at www.foodbornechicago.org/ and on Twitter at @Foodbornechi.