New app provides food establishment health inspection reports

Click to play video: 'App shares food inspection reports on restaurants'
App shares food inspection reports on restaurants
WATCH ABOVE: A software developer has created an app that gathers public data on food inspection reports for establishments in a number of Canadian cities, including Edmonton. Slav Kornik shares the details. – Jan 15, 2019

A new app is allowing Canadians to get the dirt on their favourite eateries.

The Tomati app provides public data on health inspection reports for food establishments that are pulled from health authority websites. The restaurants are then given a score based on the reports.

Software developer Egor Philippov said one of his goals when creating the app was to remove user bias with the scoring system.

“The restaurant starts with 100 points and then for every infraction in the last two years, if it’s a critical infraction, it’s minus five points, if it’s non-critical, it’s minus three points. If the health authority doesn’t distinguish between the two, it’s minus three points,” Philippov said.

READ MORE: An investigation into food inspections in Nova Scotia

“The scores are time-weighted, so an infraction that happened two years ago would count for a lot less than an infraction that happened only a couple weeks ago.”

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The app currently operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Greater Toronto Area, Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria. Every food establishment that is covered by the local health authority is on Tomati. Nearly 100,000 establishments are currently covered on the app.

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Tomati also provides aggregate restaurant rankings from Yelp, Zomato and Google places, as well as the best deals at establishments in each city.

Philippov got the idea for the app after seeing a restaurant in his neighbourhood being shutdown by a local health authority.

“As I started looking deeper into it, I thought there was a need to get that information out there,” he said.

READ MORE: Do Canadians know enough about food safety? Survey says no

When it comes to Alberta, Philippov said it has been challenging to get the most accurate information for establishments in Calgary and Edmonton but a transition with Alberta Health Services should change that.

“All the inspections prior to December 2018 are divided between five portals,” he said. Newer inspections will be reported on a new portal that covers the entire province, he added. “They’re not transferring the old data to the new portal and this new portal is going to have more details.”

The software developer said Edmonton restaurants are largely in good shape.

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“The Edmonton restaurants are looking pretty good. There are a few outliers, but you can see what they are on the app.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Dynasty Century Palace Restaurant briefly shut down due to cockroaches

Philippov said managing the app is a full-time job and he hopes to expand to every city in Canada.

Since launching the app in December, he said the feedback has been largely positive.

“I’m really happy with where I’m at with Tomati,” he said. He’s looking to address people’s feedback, make the UI (user interface), and expand the data to cover more areas in Canada, he said.

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