Biometrics in the foodservice industry tends to raise questions, but the debate over whether restaurants should use it may soon become a thing of the past. Founders Table, a restaurant group that includes Chopt and Dos Toros Taqueria, announced today it has teamed up with the CLEAR platform to test a health screening process on employees. The success of this pilot could mean a new form of employee health management is on its way to the restaurant biz.
According to a press release, a pilot of this program will start with the reopening of Chopt in Washington, D.C., and Dos Toros in NYC. More than 30 employees will use the new “Health Pass by CLEAR,” which was released this year, as part of their daily health screening.
Anyone who’s been to an airport in the last few years will recognize CLEAR as the company that keeps kiosks near the terminal that scan a user’s fingerprints to identify them and enable faster check in. Health Pass by CLEAR does away with the kiosk aspect of this, as the system works on mobile devices to connect health information to employees biometric data like their faces and fingertips.
Once set up in a restaurant, employees verify their identity with biometrics from a mobile device, and also complete a real-time health quiz (based on CDC guidance). They upload their data to their test provider, which verifies their health scan and identity. The system can also perform temperature checks. The idea is that once restaurants have near-instantaneous results on these elements, they can decide whether to send a worker who isn’t feeling well or has a high temperature home.
Biometrics, of course, bring up a lot of questions around data privacy. However, most of those questions originated in a pre-COVID world, and more people could be wiling to part with that data in order to be assured they’re eating, working, shopping, etc. in a safer environment. CNBC mentioned recently that “health screening could become an everyday task for many Americans.” That would make sense in a restaurant — even those with off-premises formats — where the operating model relies on other people touching your food.
Plenty of other companies offer health-related tools for restaurants. Squadle released its own scanner in June, and DragonTail Systems is using its AI to scan the cleanliness of food prep areas. Then of course there’s PathSpot, which scans employees hands to ensure proper hand washing. CLEAR, however, goes the most in depth because of the identity recognition aspect of its system. And if its pilot with Founders Table proves a valuable tool for restaurants, many other chains will likely adopt the system.