The impact of the public disclosure of curved inspection scores using emojis on hygiene violations in food establishments

PC Patel, Niels Rietveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Policymakers increasingly develop initiatives to influence business and consumer behavior. Among the initiatives to increase the compliance of food establishments to hygiene standards is the public disclosure of hygiene inspection scores. In this study, we analyze the impact of the 2017 law change in King County (Washington state, USA) mandating the presentation of hygiene inspection scores at the front door using an emoji-based display with information about the food establishment’s relative performance to other food establishments in the zip code area. Based on information from 82,545 food inspections in 8,010 food establishments in the period August 2014 to May 2019, we find that the rolling implementation of these displays had a small but meaningful impact on food inspection scores and hygiene violations. As a result of the new display, hygiene scores improved and the odds of failing inspection declined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-467
Number of pages13
JournalCornell Hospitality Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Online first June 2021

Funding Information:
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

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