Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Brian Labus

Second Committee Member

Mark Buttner

Third Committee Member

Patricia Cruz

Fourth Committee Member

Clark Kincaid

Number of Pages



Foodborne illness, commonly referred to as food poisoning, affects an estimated 1 in 6 Americans every year, despite the fact that it is entirely preventable. Many cases of foodborne illness go unreported; however, better reporting leads to faster health department response and containment. Social media monitoring, using software to identify trends in social media posts, is a novel new tool that has been tested in a variety of public health fields with promising preliminary results. The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) has employed social media monitoring software to identify potential foodborne illness within Southern Nevada. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which this tactic was effective in identifying high risk facilities that could be the source of disease, and then characterizing those high risk facilities based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) five foodborne illness risk factors. This study revealed that restaurants flagged by the software performed worse on routine inspections than matched controls, both before and after adjusting the scores to account for every observation of risky food handling. Secondly, the data showed that in all inspections, contamination was the most frequently observed foodborne illness risk factor out of compliance. These findings show that social media monitoring can be a useful tool to guide inspectors to restaurants that may have an active lapse in food safety. Additionally, the fact that contamination was most frequently observed in both groups of restaurants shows that there is a need to educate food handlers and managers on effective contamination prevention techniques.


food poisoning; health department; inspection; restaurant; score; twitter


Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Epidemiology | Public Health

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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