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Tweeting about food poisoning shown to help combat the problem

Food poisoning
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(NaturalNews) Some people curse technology, saying that it takes up too much of their time or that it's too hard to keep up with the ever-changing trends. Others revel in its many benefits, which have now extended to helping identify outbreaks of food poisoning.

Twitter in particular is at the forefront of this change with an effort called FoodBorne Chicago (@foodbornechi), put in place by the Chicago Department of Public Health and its civic partners. (1) The initiative is designed so that tweets from less-than-happy food establishment customers tip off the agency, alerting them to locations that may be sickening patrons. (1)

Such messages are flagged by the agency, which replies to the person who tweeted the food-poisoning-related message and puts them in touch with a complaint form. The form helps the agency pinpoint the specific restaurant or venue in question and investigate accordingly. So successful have the responses to such tweets been that, last year alone, it led to the closing down and mandatory improvements of several dozen Chicago restaurants. (1)

Why "tweeting" about food poisoning helps

"We wanted to try to reach out to Chicagoans in many different ways, and we know that a lot of people are on Twitter," said Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair. "If they are experiencing food-related illness, they won't always pick up the phone and call us, but they will tweet it." (2)

One such Chicagoan who tweeted about food poisoning was Juan Anguiano. "I wasn't expecting the city of Chicago to tweet me and ask me to file a report. I actually filled it out and thought it was awesome," he said of the outreach. (2)

The reply comes in response to someone's tweet, which is based on an algorithm of food poisoning key words such as vomiting and cramps, then sends the reply, "That doesn't sound good. Help us prevent this and report where you ate here." (3) The reply includes a link with a form to report the illness details.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne pathogens can trigger symptoms of illness a few minutes to several weeks after contaminated food is ingested, which can make it difficult to find the source of food poisoning. (3) For this reason, social media is beneficial in helping keep outbreaks at bay and address violations faster.

It's reported that other cities such as New York and Boston are looking to follow suit, using Twitter to track places where food poisoning may be an issue. (1)


(1) http://www.scientificamerican.com

(2) http://articles.chicagotribune.com

(3) http://www.cdc.gov


About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. >>> Click here to see more by Antonia

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