Back in November we told you about FoodFumble, a bare-bones mobile application that lets users search for the health department's food safety scores awarded to area restaurants. Frisco resident Noel Geren created the app to help users make more informed dining decisions.
The only problem was the app could only access data for Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Plano, Richardson, Carrollton, Irving and Grayson County. Dallas was left out. Android users were left out, too. The app was only available on iPhones.
But recently Geren announced that both issues have been remedied.
If you've ever tried to search the database provided by the city, you'll quickly see the utility of Geren's app. Users can search for restaurants in their proximity (useful if you're browsing restaurants while driving around), and you can also search by name, though not without some glitches.
I had trouble with some searches for a number of restaurants by name. A search for "Oak," which was intended for the popular restaurant in the Design District, pulled up an endless list of restaurants in Oak Cliff instead. And a search for "Goodfriend" pulled up nothing when I was hoping to check out the health score for the popular beer garden in East Dallas.
I did, however, find out that the Subway on Gaston Avenue I frequent for a veggie sandwich when I'm trying to counteract all the burgers I consume has a less than desirable score. As did Bryan Street Tavern, which I've frequented on occasion for wings.
The obvious question is how will diners react to having quick access (most of the time) to this data. Would a score of 79 or lower, which earns Dallas restaurants a broken plate icon in the app, steer diners away from restaurants that they may have otherwise patronized?
The problem is more complicated, because these scores don't often paint a complete picture about the cleanliness of a restaurant. Certainly unsanitary conditions are a serious cause for concern. But a bad seal on a refrigerator door, or leaky drain on a sink -- two infractions that might not alarm most customers -- will still show up as a negative score. Unfortunately with the plates icons used by Foodfumble and the scores that drive them, there's no way to know the difference.