Hazel Analytics+Yelp

Health Inspection Data on Yelp

In 2021, Hazel Analytics began a partnership with Yelp to display inspection details for restaurants and other food service facilities on the Yelp platform. Research shows that making health inspection information easier to find can lead to:

Informed consumer decision-making

Informed consumer decision-making

Better hygiene at restaurants

Better hygiene at restaurants

Improved public health outcomes

Improved public health outcomes

Increased revenue for clean restaurants

Increased revenue for clean restaurants

Health Inspection Data on YelpHealth Inspection Data on Yelp

Frequently Asked Questions

For Everyone

Who is Hazel Analytics?
Open Question

We're a Seattle-based technology company with a mission to improve public health by effectively connecting food service operators, consumers, regulators, and industry providers to drive action.

Over 200 leading restaurant brands like Starbucks and The Cheesecake Factory rely on Hazel technology to proactively monitor food safety at over 300,000 locations in the US, Canada, and UK. You can learn more by reading our company overview.

What health inspection information does Yelp publish?
Open Question

Yelp publishes data from Hazel, and in some cases directly from health departments, using the Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification (LIVES) standard format. For a given food service facility, its inspection history will be provided; these records include attributes such as:

  • Date of visit
  • Score
  • Inspection type
  • Violations cited for each past inspection

Please refer to Yelp's LIVES documentation page for more details.

How do health scores on Yelp work?
Open Question

Two types of health scores are published on Yelp:

  1. A health score that Hazel collects directly from the local health department's publicly available data. These scores are labeled on the Yelp platform as being "powered by Hazel Analytics."
  2. An estimated health score from Hazel. These scores are labeled on the Yelp platform as being "estimated by Hazel Analytics."

    Many health departments do not report inspection scores or grades, so Hazel collects underlying local health department data to provide an estimated score. To calculate an estimated score, our system considers the number of violations in an inspection, giving double weight to critical violations over non-critical violations, then assigns a score out of 100 points. Only inspections that have no violations receive a perfect score of 100.

    Our system ensures that estimated scores in each health department jurisdiction follow a fixed distribution that's representative of average health department behavior. We aim to effectively use the underlying data to summarize the original inspection results, while not being overly harsh or lenient.

Where does Hazel get its data from?
Open Question

We collect health inspection data from local health departments through online data collection technology tailored to each agency's publication method (online search portal, API, file download, etc.). We gather as many relevant data fields as we can accurately and reliably collect (e.g. inspection date, inspection type, violation details etc.) given each health department's reporting practices. Our automated collection methods are more cost-effective and faster for health departments compared to the public records requests which could otherwise be necessary to access this information.

For Restaurant Operators

How can I improve my health inspection scores?
Open Question

Many local health departments provide educational resources to help restaurant operators in their jurisdiction improve their food safety and hygiene practices. We suggest that you check out your local health department's website or contact their office to understand what resources may be available to you.

Additionally, you could also check out data analytics and technology solutions that we provide for:

  • Independent restaurant / food service operators:
    Inspection Intel, a free, easy-to-use software to help restaurant operators better understand and improve their health inspection performance.

  • Enterprise/multi-location food service and retail providers:
    Food Safety Insights, an award-winning software solution that is used by more than 200 leading brands like Starbucks, Red Robin, and The Cheesecake Factory to manage food safety, regulatory compliance, and reputational risks.

What health inspection information does Yelp publish about my business?
Open Question

Yelp publishes data from Hazel, and in some cases directly from health departments, using the Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification (LIVES) standard format. For a given food service facility, its inspection history will be provided; these records include attributes such as:

  • Date of visit
  • Score
  • Inspection type
  • Violations cited for each past inspection

Please refer to Yelp's LIVES documentation page for more details.

Why is the most recent inspection for my business not appearing on Yelp?
Open Question

When the health department, Hazel, and Yelp are all working quickly, the latest inspection for a business should appear on Yelp within a week. However, in some cases it may take longer for a new inspection to appear on Yelp. The process of making health inspection information available on Yelp has several steps:

  • First, the health inspector has to complete their report and submit it to their health department.
  • There may be a delay — lasting hours, days, or even weeks — before the report is published online by the health department, depending on how the agency operates.
  • Once the report is published online, Hazel's data collection technology typically retrieves the information within 24-48 hours; our data is sent to Yelp shortly afterwards.
  • Additional quality control measures may, in some cases, result in further delays before the information is shown on Yelp.

In practice, we find that the source of most delays is the lag time before the health department posts their report online; you can refer to our whitepaper for an in-depth analysis. If your health department doesn't post their reports quickly, we encourage you to speak with them or your local government officials to advocate for improving the way they publish data — the faster the reports are published, the sooner you and the rest of the general public can benefit from them.

If an inspection report has been published on a health department website more than two weeks ago and isn't appearing on Yelp, please contact our support team. To help us address your inquiry as quickly as possible, be sure to include the Yelp URL of the business, the name and street address of the business, and the URL of the health department's report (if available).

We aim to respond to all inquiries received before 6 pm ET on the same business day, and otherwise by the next business day.

Why does my business have no health inspection data available on Yelp?
Open Question

Although many areas of the US are served by health departments that publish their data online, around 20% of the population is not as fortunate. We aren't able to send Yelp any data for such "offline" jurisdictions. If you'd like your health department's data to be made available online, we encourage you to speak with them or your local government officials. You are also welcome to point them to our Public Health page, which provides information on different ways that Hazel can help enable and/or improve their online data publication practices.

There are also a few health departments which do publish reports online but don't include sufficient details. If both an inspection score and specific violation details are missing from a report, such data is considered too incomplete to show on Yelp.

In a few rare instances, a health department may have their data online, but Hazel hasn't added the website to our automated data collection system. This situation could occur if the website has major issues that prevent us from collecting data accurately, or if the website is brand-new and we aren't aware that it exists. If this is the case, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact our support team to suggest new health department websites for us to cover.

If you're not seeing a health inspection for a particular restaurant on Yelp, but nearby locations do have their data on Yelp, you may have found a location that we haven't covered yet. It could be a brand-new restaurant, or there might be an issue with data collection. Please refer to the previous question (“Why is the most recent inspection for my business not appearing on Yelp?”) for more details on this scenario.

What can I do if I see health inspection data on Yelp that looks wrong?
Open Question

Hazel's data is collected directly from the information published online by health departments, totaling more than two million inspections each year. From time to time, errors on health department websites or in our software will cause something to be collected improperly, despite our continuous best efforts to monitor and correct for these problems proactively. We're grateful for your help in fixing any problems that get past our quality control, so that Yelp users can get the best information possible.

As a first step, we recommend that you double-check the health department website. If you're seeing a discrepancy between Hazel's data and the health department website, please contact our support team. To help us look into the issue as quickly as possible, we ask that you include the URL of the health department's report, the Yelp URL, and the name and street address of the business in your message.

We aim to respond to all inquiries received before 6 pm ET on the same business day, and otherwise by the next business day.

For Health Departments

How can my health department bring its inspection results online?
Open Question

Hazel Analytics can help bring your department's data online through low-cost and even no-cost options. Learn more here.

How can my health department improve the way that it publishes inspection results online?
Open Question

Hazel Analytics has over a decade of experience collecting, analyzing, and making actionable data from thousands of health departments in the US and beyond. We spell out best practices for health inspection data publication in great detail with easy-to-understand examples in a whitepaper that is free to download.

Your agency may also be eligible to plug into Hazel's platform for free in order to have your agency's data disseminated to consumers, restaurant operators, and food safety professionals at major food service and retail brands in near real-time. Learn more here.

Health Inspection Basics

What is a health inspection?
Open Question

In many countries, a public health authority will require that all food-serving establishments be inspected to ensure compliance with safe practices around food handling, storage, employee hygiene, and facility maintenance. The primary motivation for these inspections is reducing the risk of foodborne illness for both patrons and staff. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed the Food Code, which is commonly used as a blueprint for food service inspections by local health departments across the country.

A food service facility is usually visited for a routine inspection once every 9 to 12 months. If the facility is deemed to pose a higher risk for foodborne illness, based on factors like its cuisine or historical performance, it may get inspected more frequently.

An inspector who visits food service facilities will record various details about each visit in a report. These details often include the name and location of the business being inspected, the date of inspection, the reason for the inspection, and observations about how well the facility adheres to your health department's requirements for food safety protocol. When the inspector sees something improper, they'll note that as a violation of your local food code. The number of violations noted, as well as the severity of those violations, may determine the overall score (sometimes called a grade or result) assigned to an inspection.

For a 3-minute introduction to health inspections, check out part 1 of our "Health Inspections Explained" video series. For a more detailed breakdown of different inspection and violation types, check out part 2.

Why is health inspection data important?
Open Question

As academic research has shown, health inspections and the public disclosure of their results lead to better outcomes for both consumers and food service businesses. By using this data, consumers can make informed decisions about where to eat, while businesses are motivated to maintain clean, safe environments to protect their patrons and staff.

  • Recent research shows that there is a 61% reduction in foodborne illness in jurisdictions that post restaurant letter grades at the point of sale.
  • One research study also found that health inspection scores led to improved financial performance for restaurants with good hygiene. In LA county, restaurants with higher health inspection scores (letter grades A) saw a 5.7% increase in revenue.
Who is responsible for conducting inspections?
Open Question

In the US, Canada, and UK, health inspections are performed by a local health department. A health department operates in a jurisdiction which could be a specific metro area, a county, or a larger region such as a province or state.

In the US, there are over 2,500 local health departments, and each one uses its own food code to determine how to evaluate food safety practices and sets its own policies for scoring inspections and publishing inspection reports. While the FDA provides guidance in the form of the Food Code, local health departments will typically adopt and customize that guidance to meet their area's needs and preferences. As a result, there is a lack of standardization: it's not possible to make a reliable, direct comparison between inspections in different jurisdictions. Not only do the underlying food codes vary, but differences in inspector training and enforcement behavior can compound the issue further.

To learn more about the US health department landscape, we also recommend that you check out part 4 of our "Health Inspections Explained" video series.

How should I interpret a health inspection score?
Open Question

As noted above, local health departments set their own food codes and other policies, and one of the effects of this system is the lack of a standardized scoring methodology. Depending on where you live or work, you may have seen these scores presented in some of the following ways:

  • a letter grade (A, B, or C)
  • a number grade (where 100 is a perfect score, and points are subtracted per violation)
  • a demerit count (where 0 is a perfect score, and points are added per violation)
  • a categorical system like pass/fail, green/red/yellow, or satisfactory/unsatisfactory

If you're not familiar with any of these systems, you may live in an area where your local health department does not publish an overall score for inspections.

If you have questions about the score assigned by a health department, we advise you to refer to their own guidance on how to interpret their specific scoring system. For instance, you can view information on New York City’s grading system on their website. Because scoring isn't standardized nationwide, two inspection scores given by two different health departments may look the same but have somewhat different meanings.

To learn more about inspection scoring, we also recommend that you check out part 3 of our "Health Inspections Explained" video series.

Troubleshooting

Why is the most recent inspection for a business not appearing on Yelp?
Open Question

When the health department, Hazel, and Yelp are all working quickly, the latest inspection for a business should appear on Yelp within a week. However, in some cases it may take longer for a new inspection to appear on Yelp. The process of making health inspection information available on Yelp has several steps:

  • First, the health inspector has to complete their report and submit it to their health department.
  • There may be a delay — lasting hours, days, or even weeks — before the report is published online by the health department, depending on how the agency operates.
  • Once the report is published online, Hazel's data collection technology typically retrieves the information within 24-48 hours; our data is sent to Yelp shortly afterwards.
  • Additional quality control measures may, in some cases, result in further delays before the information is shown on Yelp.

In practice, we find that the source of most delays is the lag time before the health department posts their report online; you can refer to our whitepaper for an in-depth analysis. If your health department doesn't post their reports quickly, we encourage you to speak with them or your local government officials to advocate for improving the way they publish data — the faster the reports are published, the sooner you and the rest of the general public can benefit from them.

If an inspection report has been published on a health department website more than two weeks ago and isn't appearing on Yelp, please contact our support team. To help us address your inquiry as quickly as possible, be sure to include the Yelp URL of the business, the name and street address of the business, and the URL of the health department's report (if available).

We aim to respond to all inquiries received before 6 pm ET on the same business day, and otherwise by the next business day.

Why do some restaurants have no health inspection data available on Yelp?
Open Question

Although many areas of the US are served by health departments that publish their data online, around 20% of the population is not as fortunate. We aren't able to send Yelp any data for such "offline" jurisdictions. If you'd like your health department's data to be made available online, we encourage you to speak with them or your local government officials. You are also welcome to point them to our Public Health page, which provides information on different ways that Hazel can help enable and/or improve their online data publication practices.

There are also a few health departments which do publish reports online but don't include sufficient details. If both an inspection score and specific violation details are missing from a report, such data is considered too incomplete to show on Yelp.

In a few rare instances, a health department may have their data online, but Hazel hasn't added the website to our automated data collection system. This situation could occur if the website has major issues that prevent us from collecting data accurately, or if the website is brand-new and we aren't aware that it exists. If this is the case, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact our support team to suggest new health department websites for us to cover.

If you're not seeing a health inspection for a particular restaurant on Yelp, but nearby locations do have their data on Yelp, you may have found a location that we haven't covered yet. It could be a brand-new restaurant, or there might be an issue with data collection. Please refer to the previous question (“Why is the most recent inspection for a business not appearing on Yelp?”) for more details on this scenario.

What can I do if I see health inspection data on Yelp that looks wrong?
Open Question

Hazel's data is collected directly from the information published online by health departments, totaling more than two million inspections each year. From time to time, errors on health department websites or in our software will cause something to be collected improperly, despite our continuous best efforts to monitor and correct for these problems proactively. We're grateful for your help in fixing any problems that get past our quality control, so that Yelp users can get the best information possible.

As a first step, we recommend that you double-check the health department website. If you're seeing a discrepancy between Hazel's data and the health department website, please contact our support team. To help us address your inquiry as quickly as possible, be sure to include the Yelp URL of the business, the name and street address of the business, and the URL of the health department's report (if available).

We aim to respond to all inquiries received before 6 pm ET on the same business day, and otherwise by the next business day.