When most people think of Thanksgiving, their minds picture a big dinner table at home surrounded by family and friends. However, this old-fashioned vision may be more nostalgia than anything else. In 2013, 33 million Americans relied on restaurants for all or part of their Thanksgiving dinner*. Add that to the 46 million that dined out on Black Friday, it’s clear that traditions are changing.
Stating reasons such as convenience, personal preference and lack of space to host, it is clear that consumers want, and more importantly, need options. Whether they plan on celebrating the entire holiday at their favorite restaurant or order in to avoid washing pots and pans, Americans have the freedom to tailor Thanksgiving to their own lifestyle needs.
As the number of Thanksgiving diners increases, restaurants must also take necessary precautions to protect their guests when a food poisoning outbreak occurs. This includes identifying the origin of the affected food in order to stop serving whatever it is that is causing the illness.
Mobile applications such as Yelp and other restaurant review sites could be used by public health officials as an early way to detect food poisoning outbreaks and prevent future spread**. Just as consumers have the freedom to choose where they would like to celebrate Thanksgiving, with immediate and real time access to dining information, they also would have the ability to alert others if a certain establishment has had any issues with food poisoning. Other diners then have the freedom to make an informed decision to dine elsewhere – keeping themselves and hopefully many others out of harm’s way.
Once just a convenience tool to post recommendations and make reservations, restaurant review sites are now serving up a more useful purpose.