Restaurants and other food establishments can collect information from consumers and customers in the form of individual data, according to a new report by the Consumer Technology Association.
The CTA also said restaurants should be aware of how they can share data with third parties and be mindful of the privacy implications.
The report was released this week, and is based on a survey of 3,000 consumers who were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their health habits, including what they were eating and how often they ate.
While a large portion of the respondents said they had no health problems, a significant percentage said they were concerned about health care costs and health risks associated with certain foods.
The survey showed that, for instance, the most frequent complaint about eating out was not the cost of the food, but the food itself.
According to the CTA, the majority of consumers reported that their health care providers had no specific recommendations on how to best manage their personal health data.
The survey also found that, overall, most respondents said that they had a lot of information about themselves, with the largest number of individuals reporting more than 10,000 pieces of information, or more than 5% of their personal data.
According the CTEA, restaurants should consider sharing the personal data it collects with third party companies that may use it for other purposes, such as providing marketing messages to consumers.
“Consumers should be informed about what third parties may use their personal information, and how to protect it from misuse,” the Cta said.
The CTA said that restaurants should use information to:• Identify the consumers that are likely to have health problems;• Learn what their health problems are;• Understand what kind of foods are most likely to cause health problems and how they could be avoided;• Ensure that they have the necessary information to help them make informed choices;• Assess the overall health of their customer base; and• Make sure that all of their employees are comfortable with sharing their personal and medical data.
The agency also recommended that restaurants be aware that many employers have policies that prohibit sharing information with third-party organizations.
“It’s important to understand the privacy rights of your customers and employees when it comes to health data, and the best practices for using and protecting your data are well worth learning about,” CTA President and CEO Matt McQuaid said in a statement.
“The CTEAs recommendations on restaurant health data are just a start, and they will help you and your employees better understand the benefits and costs of the services they offer to their customers, while providing them with clear and easy-to-follow guidance on how best to manage your personal and health information.”
Follow APHealth on Twitter for the latest in health care and technology.