Food inspectors don’t just hand out fines to dirty restaurants in NSW Australia, they name and shame the offenders online (read about it, see it). Far more sophisticated is the New York equivalent: it’s a searchable database that offers the ‘stick’ of shame and the ‘carrot’ of an award: “Golden Apples” are awarded to restaurants that pass food inspections with flying colours.
Going a step further: Publish the results where people will actually see them.
ONLINE: Still, there are some obvious enhancements for such systems. With so many restaurant listings guides (Time Out, Eatability etc.), it would be great for food authorities to link such guides to the complete food inspection database: why not have the last 5 food inspection scores alongside customer reviews? It wouldn’t be technically difficult to implement and would provide a REAL incentive for keeping your business spotless – online restaurant guides are being used more and more to help organise busy social lives…
OFFLINE: You could also oblige restaurateurs to publish their results in the windows of their businesses, along with the menu. Man, that’s an incentive to keep things spotless.