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Tools | Quinn Bowman

High-Tech Hygiene
New technology is allowing restaurants to maintain food safety and ensure employee cleanliness.
Can technology improve food safety in restaurants?

When Claim Jumper restaurants, a chain of sit-down family eateries based in Irvine, California, decided they wanted to upgrade how they monitored the safety of their food, they took an expensive and high-tech step to the next level.

Ted Stathakis, vice president of technology of the chain, said their decision to switch from the inexpensive pen, paper, and clipboard to checking on health standards with a wireless personal data assistant and special software was a “no-brainier.”

That software, ParTech Inc.’s iQuality, allows chain restaurants, as well as independent restaurants, to monitor a wide variety of food safety and restaurant-sanitation items via a digital checklist on an Internet-connected PDA device.

ParTech is the hospitality division of PAR Technology Corporation.

Karen Sammon, president of ParTech’s software division, says iQuality is a solution for restaurants, quick-serve, or companies that want to do a better job of complying with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Principles and Application (HACCP) guidelines.

While not mandatory, these guidelines are followed by all major restaurants, and monitor many different safety and health issues within a restaurant. However, without software like iQuality, managers must rely on a paper checklist that is filed into a cabinet and is not easily accessible by upper management or centralized in any way.

ParTech acquired the software from a company called I.Q. Scientific and augmented the program before placing it in stores in January 2007, Sammon said. The company announced the release of the software in late May 2007.

Software similar to iQuality has been in existence for several years, says Dr. Peter Snyder, Jr., founder of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it doesn’t necessarily improve food safety or sanitation, he contends. While this type of technology is leading the restaurant industry in the right direction, the real issue for food safety will always be effective management. “Human beings run restaurants, not PDAs,” he says.

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