MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (FOX 46) - Next time you go on Yelp you'll find a new feature: A health score based on the county's health inspection database.
“I don't eat below a 90. That's my personal threshold," said Lynn Lathan who works with Mecklenburg County's Health Department.
She says now you'll get to see a restaurant's health violations right along with customer reviews.
"I look at repeat issues and risk category violations. Those are the things I concentrate on."
Lathan says a health grade is a snapshot in time. The more important things to look at are the violations and the restaurant's health grade history.
"There's no magic grade that's best to eat at. You really want to look at the inspections themselves."
Keeping food at the wrong temperature is a common health risk violation according to Lathan. That high risk factor - she says - could lead to pathogens growing on the food you eat.
"There is a certain point with certain types of bacteria where it doesn't matter how much you cook it. You're not going to destroy either the toxin it forms or the spores that form. You could boil it and it wouldn't matter."
A yelp spokesperson says this collaboration with county health departments has its roots in the letter grade program.
"Los Angeles County required restaurants to put a, b, c letter cards on the score cards at restaurants. What happened was after 2 years of that program being rolled out, there was a 13 percent reduction in hospitalization due to food-borne illness. Within a year, 90 percent of restaurants had a "b" score," said Luther Lowe with Yelp.
He says by putting that information at your fingertips, you can keep your family safe.
"Food-borne illness kills over 6,000 people a year in the United States. If consumers are empowered with this information before they go out and dine, it can help them avoid a really negative experience beyond what's available in the ratings."
The full health score and violations are available on the desktop version.
For now, the mobile and app versions only have the grade.