While taking an Instagram picture of that salad you’re about to eat, consider snapping one of the safety information on the menu or the waiter picking his nose, too. Or maybe photograph proper glove and thermometer use to cross-contamination and babies being changed on restaurant tables.
Ben Chapman, assistant professor and food-safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, has launched the Citizen Food Safety project, which calls for anyone to post photos of good or bad food-safety practices to Twitter and Instagram with the tag #citizenfoodsafety. Chapman then collects the pictures at http://citizenfoodsafety.tumblr.com/.
“Lots of people get sick and lots of people are taking precautions — or missing chances — to reduce risks,” Chapman says. “With an estimated 48 million illnesses attributed to foodborne pathogens annually, I hope that the project increases the public discussion and attention related to food safety.”
The project officially started on Sept. 23 when Chapman posted about it on barfblog. So far, there are about 50 pictures on the blog, some of which Chapman has taken himself. He says that curating has been simple so far because of the small size of the collection and that he hopes to eventually categorize pictures based on risk and yuck factors.
Food and public-health voyeurism has been around for a while, Chapman says, adding, “The project became reality with the advent and improvement of smart phones and the rise of the interest in citizen science.”
In his post, Chapman references a 2005 program in South Korea that encouraged diners to take pictures of food-safety infractions in restaurants and submit them to health inspectors who could follow up and potentially fine the establishment. The United Kingdom since launched a similar program, and there have been multiple examples of pests in New York and Toronto shared online.
“Better dialogue around food safety isn’t just about awareness. It’s about increasing the value society puts on working towards producing foods in the safest way,” Chapman says. “More dialogue and more informed shoppers and eaters keeps pressure on everyone to do better.”© Food Safety News