Food Safety STL
Helping City of St. Louis residents report cases of foodborne illness to the Department of Health through social media
What is Food Safety STL?
Food Safety STL (@FoodSafetySTL) is a Twitter account set up for residents to report cases of suspected foodborne illness, and further interact with the Department of Health. Meanwhile, a corresponding internal social media application will capture tweets that mention or use keywords related to foodborne illness located within a 25-mile radius from the center of the City of St. Louis. These captured tweets will prompt a response from the Food Safety STL Twitter account to provide further information on reporting. After a report has been submitted, the individual will receive either a follow-up reply tweet and/or an email providing him/her with a case number.
Complaints that fall outside of this jurisdiction will be appropriately referred to the corresponding local health department and the state health department.
Foodborne Illness and Social Media
Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, occurs when you get sick after consuming contaminated foods or beverages.
The CDC reports as few as 2.9% of those who become sick with foodborne illness seek medical care and most do not report their illness. As a result, existing surveillance systems only capture a small fraction of the disease burden, making prevention and evaluation of existing food safety policies and programs challenging. New media and information channels, such as social media and search engines, are a promising source of data for improving disease surveillance and reporting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did I get a reply to my tweet from @FoodSafetySTL?
We use sophisticated technology to search Twitter for tweets related to foodborne illness in the City of St. Louis. Your tweet was identified as a possible foodborne illness case that took place within the City of St. Louis, and reporting your experience will provide us with additional information to investigate the case.
You can expect a reply tweet from @FoodSafetySTL noting that your form was received.
The Department of Health works to prevent and address foodborne illness in the community. We want to ensure food safety for you and your family.
Email us at FoodSafetySTL@stlouis-mo.gov or send us a tweet @FoodSafetySTL.
Food Safety STL is a new initiative funded by the Center for Dissemination and Implementation through the Institute of Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis. This project combines the expertise from the City of St. Louis Department of Health, Washington University in St. Louis, HealthMap at Boston Children's Hospital, and the Chicago Department of Public Health to improve foodborne illness surveillance and reporting by identifying and responding to foodborne illness tweets on Twitter.
Resources and Links
- Health Department Use of Social Media to Identify Foodborne Illness — Chicago, Illinois, 2013–2014
- The RUsick2 Foodborne Disease Forum for Syndromic Surveillance
- Food Safety: Emerging Trends in Foodborne Illness Surveillance and Prevention
- Food-related illness and death in the United States
- Evaluation of a Statewide Foodborne Illness Complaint Surveillance System in Minnesota, 2000 through 2006
- Online Reports of Foodborne Illness Capture Foods Implicated in Official Foodborne Outbreak Reports
- Using Online Reviews by Restaurant Patrons to Identify Unreported Cases of Foodborne Illness - New York City, 2012-2013
- Social and News Media Enable Estimation of Epidemiological Patterns Early in the 2010 Haitian Cholera Outbreak
- Digital Disease Detection—Harnessing the Web for Public Health Surveillance
- Can Twitter and Yelp really help spot a salmonella outbreak?—The Washington Post
Food Safety STL values your online privacy and is committed to safe guarding the data you share with us and your online privacy.
Information We Collect
Food Safety STL only collects information you share with the application regarding foodborne illness reporting. We do not collect personal information without your permission. Any information that you volunteer or that we send to you in response is transferred using industry standard encryption technologies.
Food Safety STL collects your name, email address, and phone numbers so that the City of St. Louis Department of Health may contact you regarding your report. Food Safety STL also collects the name, location, date, and description of your foodborne illness report.
Information we collect through Twitter and the foodborne illness report will also be used for the purposes of research conducted by Washington University in St. Louis and Harvard University. As part of an ongoing study, we are obtaining data from you. We would like to use this data for studies going on right now as well as studies that are conducted in the future. These studies may provide additional information that will be helpful in understanding how technology can be used to facilitate foodborne illness reporting. By allowing us to use your data, you give up any property rights you may have in the data. If we write a report or article about this study or share the study data set with others, we will do so in such a way that you cannot be directly identified (e.g., we will not use your Twitter handle, name, address, email address, and phone number).
We do not use or set cookies on our website to store any information on your personal computer hard drive.
Data We Share
Food Safety STL will share the necessary data you entered and store only what you provided required to submit your complaint with the City of St. Louis Department of Health. This data is not shared with anyone else. All other information is deleted from your cache memory when you close the session and leave our site. We collect no other personal information.
Food Safety STL does not sell or share your data with any third parties.
This site contains links to other sites. We are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of all the sites listed.
We value your feedback. If you would like your data removed from the system, or have questions regarding the application, contact us at FoodSafetySTL@stlouis-mo.gov.