In late 2019, the city of Minneapolis started posting restaurant inspection results online with supporting data from a School of Public Health study recently published in the Journal of Food Protection.
The study was led by PhD student Melanie Firestone and follows previous research she conducted showing a letter grade restaurant inspection rating system in New York City was linked to a drop in Salmonella infections.
Researchers surveyed 1,188 Minnesota adults who visited the University’s Driven to Discover Research Building at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair to assess their interest in having better access to restaurant inspection information. At the time, restaurant inspection information was not easily accessible to Minnesotans with no agency posting them online or at restaurants.
The study found the following for respondents:
- 94% wanted better access to restaurant inspection information;
- 77% said that they would use this information to decide where to eat;
- 72% wanted to see the information online;
- 62% wanted to see the information at restaurants.
“These findings show that Minnesotans want better access to restaurant inspection information and would use this information to decide where to eat,” says Firestone. “Increasing access to this information could reinforce efforts by public health agencies and food service operators to improve the safety of restaurant food.”
As for how to share inspection information with diners, Firestone said her research suggests posting letter grades and a numerical score prominently in the restaurant was preferred; however, further study is needed to confirm the ideal approach.