Taco Bell and Others Use Handwashing Lie Detector on Employees


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PathSpot, a New York tech startup, has developed a hand hygiene device that identifies if hands are not sufficiently washed. Known as the Handscanner, the device is described as a handwashing lie detector. It is already being used in 10,000 food service outlets around the world, including franchised Taco Bell, Arby’s, and Chopt restaurants, according to a report from WRAL-TV.

Hand hygiene is extremely important in the food industry, where the spread of germs from the hands of workers is a common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants. According to the Environmental Health Services (EHS), poor hand hygiene accounts for nine of ten outbreaks in which food was contaminated by food workers.

Traditional methods of creating an effective hand hygiene culture in the workplace include providing training on proper handwashing, addressing barriers to worker handwashing, such as sink accessibility and time pressures, and the revision of food preparation steps.

However, one company is going a step further to help restaurants, food manufacturers, packaging plants, and other food businesses, improve hand hygiene in the food industry and better protect staff and customers.

The device is placed next to employees’ handwashing stations, which is usually where food is prepared. Following the recommended 20-second handwash with soap and then drying the hands with a paper towel, employees place their hands under the scanner.

Using light fluorescence spectroscopy, within a couple of seconds the Handscanner can detect any residual contaminant on the hands and wrists. This imaging technology is already used in healthcare which utilizes safe non-UV LED lights.

If the device detects contamination, the member of staff must wash their hands for the recommended duration again and then rescan their hands.

Christine Schindler, a biomedical engineer, and co-founder and CEO of PathSpot, said the Handscanner could instantly detect gut biome molecules that can transmit norovirus, E. coli, salmonella, Hepatitis A, Listeria, and other common illnesses. But for the CEO, the real value of the system is the real-time employee data it creates. In identifying gaps in hygiene protocols, the device enables businesses to address such concerns, says Schindler.

“We’ve actually seen that when someone fails a handwash, they start washing their hands three to five times more frequently,” she told WRAL.

The Handscanner operates at $50 a month. While some may believe the method is a little obtrusive, for restaurant and other food business owners, the handwashing ‘lie detector’ could be an invaluable asset in maintaining the gold standard in hand hygiene.

Image: Envato


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