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IDEA #54 – The Food Made Me Sick

I’m sure you’ve gone out to dinner and had a bad meal — ended up not doing so well after it. I think those should go reported somewhere — a central website — it would provide awareness to the restaurants and the customers. “I ate at ______ in (city), (state), (country). I was fine til dinner – I had the alfredo w/chicken”.

  • James Deer

    That’s a good idea, although i think the service would need to become extremely popular for it to work.

  • Josh

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think you might have to be very careful about potential slander with a site like this. A bad review of a restaurant is one thing, but claiming that a restaurant poisoned you is quite another (I would think, anyway).

  • Scott T.

    IANAL either. I imagine a site like this would have a big ass disclaimer on every review explaining that the reports belong to the reporter and may be false.

    That said, this also creates a lot of potential for restaurants to dig at competitors anonymously, not that they don’t already do that in online reviews (do they?).

  • Graydon

    My thoughts are with Josh… Keeping out the false postings… whether by the competitor or some other with too much time would be key.

    In cases of food borne illnesses, I don’t think it’s fair to have a place slammed for one isolated incident of minor indigestion that may not have come from there. So maybe there’s a switch that triggers the “hot spot warning” only after x number of reports.

    Maybe instead of building a consumer based site where average joe can see what local diner made people sick it would be focused as an easy to use reporting function that actually aggregated data to be fed first to health departments, second the offending businesses, third in an API to restruarant review sites and then to the consumer.

  • Michael Wales

    There was a case years ago that the judge ruled in favor of logic – webmasters are not responsible for the content their users post. This was based on a forum system and the judge used the following analogy, “If I built a wall and some kids came and spraypainted on that wall, I’m not responsible for what they wrote.”

    I think this same “thought” can be applied to this idea as well.

  • Greg Harris

    So this is how it could work. It would keep out the false positives.

    You text message in your review, which always captures the mobile phone # where it originated.

    You could even text message it in while your at the restaurant puking in the bathroom!

    Let me know if anyone wants to build this. I’ll supply the sms features.

  • Eric Nagel

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 immunizes service providers from liability for defamation where a third party not under the service provider’s employ furnished the published material.

    (Source: cyberLaw Text and Cases; Ferrera, Lichtenstein, Reder, August and Schiano, 2001, page 265)

    Huh? What this means is that if you create the service, and someone else posts something about a restaurant, you’re not liable for what the poster said.

  • Josh

    @Michael and Eric: I’m not so sure that applies if you’re specifically soliciting the offending material.

  • Eric Nagel

    @Josh: good point; maybe if the service also pointed out the good food, it’d be OK. But since you’re only looking to make restaurants look bad, this may be a problem. I honestly don’t know.

    How could you put a spin on this so the good, the bad and the ugly come out (and not just the bad & ugly)?

  • The Technocrat

    sites aren’t responsible for the user’s comments. This is why Google can’t be sued for something someone posts to a Google group, etc.

    You could make a business model out of this idea. Develop an easy API, and sell the data to local health departments or the FDA. Good places to advertise would be at medical offices, but also in the food-coupon books, the papers stapled to prescription bags at Walgreens/CVS, partnerships with Immodium, etc.

  • James D Kirk

    Why not just add the feature of public reviews to this site/business concept? That way you could have a section/category/tag that addresses the food poisoning opportunities, as well as like Eric suggests, the good food/experiences that occur all the time as well!

    Go Boldly!

  • Graydon

    I’m still hung up on the idea that a place could get wrongfully tagged… and not on purpose.

    Maybe it was the snacks over at your friend Bob’s house that didn’t get heated up well enough… then you blame the joint on the corner for the wretched puking that night or the next day.

    Maybe make it so that people have to put in all the places they’ve eaten the 48 hours prior to sickness. If you get enough user base, then compare that to other reports in the same area… once a match comes up (two people at Joe’s pre-party were sick) it flags that place.

    It can still be gamed, but as a consumer service, you want what? To blast the place that made you sick or to find out where it was likely you got sick?

    Make people register w/ an email so that results can be sent back to them “Corner Joint has 3 other reports in your timeframe”. In order to make it so that reports then get published to the general visitor, the original user has to confirm from the sent email.

    There’s still one fundamental problem I believe… restaurant based food illnesses are probably based upon a single incident in a specific timeframe (one lunch / dinner service time). By the time something’s reported and published the problem has been resolved.

    What I would be more concerned with is the repeat offenders…

  • Kev

    Haha Steve I’ve read your last two ideas and I love the way that no matter what situation you’re in, there’s alawys a new tech angle for it!

    “Plane crashed in the Alps and no sign of help? You could use a group twitter to make sure all people are searching for food in the right directions … or visit an online eating profile for all the passengers, to see who it would be best to eat first”!

  • Max

    Most of the time, when you get sick, it’s not the fault of something you ate…although people like to blame it on that. Your illness may have nothing to do with the restaurant you just ate at.

    A posting on the internet lives “forever” and there is no way to tell what is right or wrong. I don’t care what the legal remifications are. Unless you have proof of the cause, don’t post, call the health department…that’s their job.

    A restaurant that truely makes people sick will not last very long regardless.

  • Himanshu

    seems interesting. It just like a user generated food rating of restaurant.


    In addition to my previous comment..

    I think … we can filter the bad reviews of restaurant and than contact that restaurant advising to improve their food quality.

  • Deepak Dabas

    i guess we have zomato for that