There may be an app for that: barcodes for background info on restaurant grades

I’ve always been a fan of layered levels of information: with food, most people just want to go shopping or eat out, others want minimal levels of info – like scores on doors for restaurant inspection, and some want the who-do-you-think-you-are routine for every tomato consumed.

So now that New York City has embraced letter grades on doors, and discovered people like having access to information, the health department is considering adding bar codes that can be scanned by cell phones, allowing diners to see the violations behind the establishment’s rating.

There may soon be an app for that.

Spokeswoman Erin Hughes told the New York Daily News, "The Health Department is exploring the possibility of putting bar codes on restaurant letter grades that would take consumers directly to a restaurant’s latest [inspection] results."

The Health Department puts the details behind the A, B or C grades online, but bar codes would make that information easily accessible at a restaurant’s door.
It’s among a host of efforts the city is considering as it looks for ways to put more information in people’s palms.

"People can communicate and get information in ways that they never could before," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

Color-changing bar codes could indicate safety

I knew Mom wanted us to have dinner with the family, so when my stomach started growling on the four-hour drive to her house I dutifully chose a strawberry milk at the truck stop over the fried chicken I knew was at the counter.

My husband and I both got a bottle of pink moo juice (which is markedly different from yellow cow water) and one was past its “Use by” date.

When I walked back in to tell the cashier, she simply said, “Ew,” and held out her hand for the offending product while I went to get a new one.

I knew the date on the bottle told me when my drink would taste the best; it didn’t really say much about whether it was safe.

Safety is a result of a product’s history.

Brett Lucht and William Euler — chemistry professors at the University of Rhode Island – came up with a nearly invisible dye that will turn red when a package of food gets above 40 F.

That could tell me whether a bottle of milk was likely to be safe before I bought it.

The professors also have a patent for a two-bar code system that uses one made with color-changing dye to mask the one that’s typically scanned at the checkout when the product has warmed up too much.

Sounds pretty cool. I wonder which manufacturers would be willing to use it?