In January 2020, Minneapolis unveiled a new website that allows individuals to check food safety and restaurant inspections online for all restaurants in the city.
“Back in 2015, the city of Minneapolis developed an open data portal and our clerk’s office had identified that restaurant inspection information was one of the top three data requests they receive, so they were very interested in having the data available on a more public format,” says. Cindy Weckwerth, director of environmental health for Minneapolis.
Logan Ebeling, a health inspector who helped design the site, says people can look up almost any food business in Minneapolis—restaurants, food trucks, or grocery stores—and see all routine and follow-up health inspection reports for the current year and three prior years. “Users of the site can drill down a little bit beyond just a presented score, calculated through the violations the inspector saw, and dig in and see each violation, which code of ordinances were referenced in the violation, and the inspector’s comments and what might have been done to correct on site,” he says.
Twenty-two current inspectors in the city write their own comments and enter violations into the system, and there’s a seven-day delay before reports hit the site to give business owners or chefs time to see the report, review it, and reach out with any questions in case of mistakes. Follow-up inspections get posted immediately.
In its first two weeks of being active, the site has had more than 41,000 hits and even crashed in its first days because of the high demand. “This is information that people want, which is confirmed by the views,” Weckwerth says. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing a lot of people are going and looking at their favorite restaurants, checking out others before going to a new restaurant, and finding out information they think is important.”