A "Green Card" Doesn't Necessarily Mean Safe: Another Reason for Open Data

Hamilton’s Public Health Department inspects restaurants to ensure food safety. When a restaurant passes inspection, it is issued a “Green Card” for display in its window.

The “Green Card” tells the public that a restaurant is safe to eat at.

To the public, a “Green Card” means a restaurant was safe when Public Health arrived to inspect the food premise. To Public Health,

You may remember a couple of years ago when a restaurant was linked to 16 cases of Salmonella poisoning, after Public Health “passed” the establishment despite critical violations – the same violations that lead to the poisoning -, issuing it a “Green Card” for display in the window and allowing it to remain open.

It was only after numerous people became sick that Public Health acted, and closed the establishment.

After this event, Public Health – under pressure from Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla – promised it would not tolerate critical infractions as it had in the Salmonella case.

Open Data Shows You When a Green Card Isn’t a Real Pass

The City’s “Food Safety Zone” website lists all inspections, but not in chronological order, and individual inspections cannot be shared with unique URLs.

The information is not available on mobile devices, and is not published as open data.

When the site was built a decade or so ago, it was modern. Today, not so much.

Thankfully, Matt Grande took the time to write a scraper that grabs the latest inspection information and displays it chronologically on www.hamontfood.com.

The site works on mobile devices, and offers an API for developers to build upon.

Scrolling down the latest inspections, one can find establishments that “passed” with critical violations.

I know where I’m not eating tonight.