Recipe for Success - Food Inspection Forecasting

Food inspection workers are responsible for visiting restaurant establishments and evaluating whether they are up to code, following regulations, and free from rodents and infestations. In Chicago, there are a few dozen food inspectors working to ensure food safety at approximately 15,000 food establishments every year. To minimize exposure to potentially dangerous unsanitary conditions and foodborne illnesses, food inspection forecasting aims to identify the greatest risks and deploy inspectors to find more violations and sooner.



  1. Identify variables that predict when inspection needs to occur such as prior history of violations, nearby sanitation complaints, and deviations for the average high temperatures that might contribute to spoilage.
  2. Develop a model and predict (or rank) the probability of a violation for each inspected food establishment.
  3. Dispatch inspectors to the food establishments with the highest probability of violations to check your assumptions.


  • Putting the data into a common data portal helped collaborators work from a common source and eased interactions with data.
  • 25 percent more critical violations were identified in the first month and they were identified seven days earlier, on average.
  • Following the two month pilot, inspectors continue to receive optimized work order list.

More Information:

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photo credit: Oregon Department of Agriculture