Twitter is being used to stop food poisoning

August 16th, 2013 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Twitter has many uses: it’s a place to vent your spleen, meet people, threaten people, and post unread links to blogs about that thing that just happened.

food poisoning 300x204 Twitter is being used to stop food poisoning

Now, though, it’s being put to fiendishly clever use to stop…food poisoning. The nEmsis system, which has been developed by scientists at the University of Rochester, New York, crowdsources tweets from customers who have eaten at restaurants, analyses them and then ranks the restaurants in order of food safety.

Since its launch four months ago, NEmsis has collected 3.8 million tweets and traced 23000 New York restaurant visitors. The system works by finding tweets that have been sent from a restaurant, based on their GPS location. It then follows their tweets for the next 72 hours, in case they tweet ‘Urrrrgh, I am foaming at the mouth’ or ‘The world just fell out of my bottom.’ So far, it’s located and highlighted 480 cases of food poisoning.

Henry Kautz from the University of Rochester said: ‘The Twitter reports are not an exact indicator – any individual case could well be due to factors unrelated to the restaurant meal – but in aggregate the numbers are revealing.’

If you’ve ever eaten from a street food cart labelled ‘New York’s Best Pretzels And Unidentified Fried Objects’ you’ll know that good food hygiene is a particular problem in NYC, but nEmsis could soon be available in other countries too – with a few minor tweaks.

So if you’re staring down the barrel of a dodgy kebab, all you’ll have to do is tweet before you eat – and it’ll save you a lot of toilet-related heartache later on.

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