HOUSTON - These days when customers see something bad or gross in a restaurant, they take out their smartphone and snap a picture.
Now, one local health department is asking you to send your photos to help the department investigate food safety violations.
Consumer expert Amy Davis is showing you how it works in this week's Restaurant Report Card.
The Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services app rolled out for Android and Apple devices about a month ago.
It lets citizens take a picture and then upload it to inspectors straight from your smart phone. You type in the restaurant information along with the reason for your complaint.
The Health Department says the app uses geocoding to tell if a photo has been doctored or altered.
The app is also helpful if you're just looking for a place to eat. You can hit the "search nearby" button, and the app will display an icon for all of the food establishments near you.
If the icon is green, it means the restaurants has relatively few violations and is considered low risk.
If the icon is yellow, it means the restaurant has some problems; and a red icon means the establishment's license is suspended or is under threat of having its license revoked.
You can type in the name of any restaurant to see any health code violations its had in the last year and a copy of the restaurant's most recent inspection.
Another cool feature of the new app is that it highlights restaurants that do well with a "food safety award" icon. You can use the app on your mobile device or even your desktop. Just search "Harris Co Public Health App" in the Play Store or the Apple store or click here.
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