Thank City for Exposing Unsanitary Restaurants


Target: Mary Travis Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Goal: Thank city for exposing restaurants that are spreading food-borne diseases

In this technology savvy world, when someone experiences a negative side effect or illness from eating out at a restaurant, they usually take to the very popular business review site “Yelp” to air out their warnings to other local patrons. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene decided to build upon this idea by teaming up with the review site and with researchers from Columbia University, for a project to track restaurants that are responsible for spreading food-borne illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) estimates that about fifty million Americans get food-borne sickness and roughly three thousand people die from it every year. Researchers working on the project searched through almost three hundred thousand Yelp reviews for keywords that indicated a customer got sick after eating at a New York restaurant. The research team found over eight hundred comments indicating that people were victims of food-related illnesses, but their research into those restaurants showed that only fifteen of those food-borne illness cases were actually reported to the authorities.

Please sign this petition to show our appreciation for the NYC Department of Health’s efforts to crack down on dirty restaurants.


Dear Dr. Bassett,

It was a great idea for the New York City Health Department to launch a project with researchers from Columbia University to help improve the lives of restaurant goers in New York. Food-borne illnesses are a serious issue and take the lives of thousands of people every year. Some restaurants take shortcuts and lack proper food sanitation procedures in their kitchens. This leads to the spread of bacteria and diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can be avoided with proper cooking and cleanliness.

Thanks to the investigation into the cases of food illnesses gathered from Yelp reviewers, the New York City health department was able to launch more investigations by using the help of Yelp users’ experiences. Now authorities need to expand their surveillance of these restaurants, so that they can shut down establishments that continue to make people sick.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jeremy Noble from St. Paul, United States via Wikimedia Commons

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