citizen food safety project

In 2005 some keen public health folks in Korea started soliciting food safety-related pictures from diners as they ate and ordered at restaurants. The authorities wanted to enlist citizens to look for violations to place additional pressure on businesses to be decent food safety citizens – and to fine them for bad practices.Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 8.02.00 AM

In 2008 a second group of clever health folks in the UK followed suit and there have been multiple examples of pests-gone-wild in New York and Toronto being caught on smartphones – and shared through the Internet.

As picture and video sharing on Instagram increases, we’ve start a project, citizen food safety, that collectively captures food safety, in the broadest terms through the lens of the camera phone-wielding public. This isn’t just for the food safety nerds; its for the Interweb’s population of eaters: the regular folks who shop, eat at restaurants, visit farmers markets,  cook or eat.

Good stuff (like proper glove use, information on menus, food safety marketed to consumers, thermometer use) and bad stuff (like cross-contamination, nose picking, temperature abuse, baby’s being changed on restaurant tables) are all in play. I’ve included a few examples below and on my Twitter feed (@benjaminchapman) and my Instagram account (barfblogben). When a picture is snapped and uploaded using either app, go ahead and caption it and tag it with #citizenfoodsafety. The pictures will also by collected in a Tumblr site,

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.