Australian health authorities are tracking a New York City initiative that uses social media and restaurant review websites to investigate cases of food poisoning.

A collaboration between the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Columbia University and popular review site Yelp resulted in the discovery of previously undocumented cases of food-borne illness originating in restaurants.

The project was initiated after an investigation by New York City authorities into an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease linked to one particular restaurant. It was discovered in that particular case customers had reported illness on Yelp but not to the department of health.

A spokesperson for the New South Wales Food Authority, said it will monitor the New York program and “any other jurisdictions that may have something similar”.

Users of Yelp’s Australian site have reviewed more than 6000 restaurants and cafes and hundreds of bars and other food outlets.

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Source: Written by Matthew Hall.