See and Tell restaurant inspection: Waiter, I see a fly and in soup and I’m telling (and texting)

Croydon Today in the U.K. reports,

The See and Tell service, launched this month, enables people to text the Croydon Council’s food safety team with concerns about food safety or labelling issues – in restaurants, shops or takeaways.

There are 2,600 food businesses in Croydon, from takeaways to supermarkets.

Brian Griffiths, manager of the council’s food safety team, said,

“There are various levels of action we can take, but in the worst case scenario we can go in and close a place down on the spot. We rely heavily on customers tipping us off and this new text service will make it all the easier. If you find a hair in your soup you can literally text us from the restaurant table and we’ll come and investigating.

“Sometimes I’ve opened bins at the back of restaurants and seen the meat moving because there were so many maggots on it. And at the moment we’re dealing with a mice infestation at a high street store which sells food. It is really important we get to hear from residents about these sorts of things so we can go in and take the appropriate action.”

The move to enlist citizen diners seems like another expansion of social networking – the power’s with the people.

The city of Chicago has started encouraging Chicagoans who believe that a restaurant or any other licensed food establishment is operating in an unsafe manner to call 311 and report it.

Back in Feb. 2005, customers with cameras in South Korea were reported photographing any violation of food safety standards and reporting it to authorities.

The sikparazzi — a combination of the word sik, meaning food, and paparazzi — are, however, good news for the authorities.

The Korean Food and Drug Administration said 10,567 food safety violations were reported in the first nine months of 2004, and 74.2 million won ($118,624) paid in rewards, reported the Joong Ang Daily.

So lucrative is it to be a sikparazzi in South Korea that at least one private institute runs courses to train people for the job.

There have also been allegations that the sikparazzi sometimes contaminate the food themselves and then demand compensation, threatening to report it.

Mr Griffiths in Croydon also advised people to go to their GP if they think they have got food poisoning and give a poo sample, stating,

“The proof is in the poop and if people give a sample it can be used as evidence, which helps us wrap things up much easier if we get an allegation of food poisoning.”

Follow the poop. Everything comes down to poo.