Stomach Issues? Take to Twitter & Let the City of Chicago know

This is a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology. We’ve worked with a whole host of partners inside and outside of government to pull together this simple interface to get your information directly to City of Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) so it can be of use to everyone.

Foodborne illness is a public health issue. If you are feeling sick and you think it’s from eating in a public place, it’s a good thing to alert others about the possible danger.

The CDPH Food Protection Division fielded 1859 complaints in 2013, leading to 174 restaurant investigations for suspected food poisoning per year. The CDC estimates, however, that approximately 45% of foodborne illness goes unreported. The average resident may be unaware that they can file a complaint, much less how to file a complaint.

The City of Chicago has a robust and simple complaint submission system-- the 311 system. Restaurant complaints are routed to the CDPH when food poisoning is suspected. When a resident makes a restaurant complaint, the City passes it on to the CDPH Food Protection Services follows up with the resident. If warranted, an inspection team is dispatched to the restaurant in question.

Once you complete this form, the City of Chicago takes it from there. We use the City’s Open311 system to directly submit your information. We do not maintain a copy of your complaint and have nothing to do with the status of the issue. We’re just some people using technology to help improve communication between Chicago residents and the government that serves them.


Foodborne has processed a number of tweets and submissions since March 23rd, 2013. We would like to share a few of those numbers with you.

Total Tweets Machine Classified: 3701
These are the total number of "food poison" tweets that FoodBorne Chicago application has classified.

Total Tweets Replied To: 445
These are the total number of machine classified tweets that the human classifier has @replied to on Twitter.

Total Reports Submitted: 2599
These are the total number of reports submitted through FoodBorne Chicago.


This project has many contributors doing a myriad of positive things that fit together into this people-focused timeline:

Thanks, most of all, to the CDPH Food Protection Division, for actually doing the inspections that help keep us safe. All the tweets in the world can’t put a thermometer in a dairy case.

Thanks for that!

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