Using Twitter To Predict (And Hopefully Avoid) Food Poisoning

By Mary C. Long 

It turns out that those people who tweet about every aspect of their lives — from what they have for lunch to how they’re feeling at any given moment — might actually serve a purpose after all.

nEmesis trawls Twitter for public tweets relating to known restaurants and food outlets. Accounts tweeting about food are then essentially bookmarked by nEmesis’ computer system, which tracks them for the following 72 hours for any mention of sickness or food poisoning.

The system uses geotagging to pinpoint the exact locations you’re at risk from picking up food-born illnesses.

Aw, Big Brother’s looking out for us!

After four months of stalking over 23,000 restaurant-going New Yorkers and gathering data on 480 likely cases of food-poisoning , the researchers behind nEmesis ranked the frequented restaurants based on the likelihood of getting sick after eating there.

When compared to inspection data provided by the New York City Department of Health, the guys behind nEmesis found their results showed an overlap of one third.

If a nEmesis app is developed, it could save us regular people from popping up in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, as well as leaving food inspectors no excuse but to get tech-savvy. Fast.

The system may be a long way from perfection, but if developed and used alongside more traditional methods, nEmesis has the potential to put everyone’s finger on the pulse where food safety is concerned.

In the meantime, maybe we should give hungry tweeters a break, seeing as they’re unwittingly doing us a favor. 

Now, if only nEmesis was keeping an eye on all those Instagrammed sandwiches, too…

(Image from Shutterstock)

Related: Gvidi Uses Social Media to Tell us Where to Eat