Disney opens its food-safety secrets on Zebra devices

It was the end of Sept. 2007 when I got an invite to check out behind-the-scenes food safety activities at several Disney World kitchens at the resort in Florida.

ct-zebra-technologies-disney-bsi-photo-20160301I was blown away.

The Chicago Tribune reports that now, a Chicago-area company will help bring the technology that Disney uses to keep its food safe to a variety of food-service providers.

Disney serves more than 81 million meals a year at its American theme parks and resorts, using custom software on a mobile device that can track milk from the point it’s collected from the cow to when it becomes a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar.

Disney and partners including Lincolnshire-based Zebra Technologies announced this week that its tools are available to anyone in the food-service industry.

High-profile food-safety fails like Chipotle’s have forced restaurants to snap to attention.

“I would say there’s definitely a growing demand,” said Pat Glennon, North American vice president of retail and hospitality for Zebra Technologies. “You’re taking it from pen-and-pencil record keeping to online, immediate tracking of food items from farm to fork, which is necessary as we move forward.”

Glennon said clients can use the software-hardware solution to better comply with food safety regulations.

Zebra Technologies provides the hardware, which runs software built by Baltimore-based iCertainty on Zebra’s Android mobile computers. Restaurant workers use temperature probes that connect wirelessly to the mobile devices to track food throughout the preparation process. They also use the installed Disney Chefs app to catalog details such as whether employees wash their hands frequently.

frank.doug.manhattanDisney uses almost 900 Zebra MC40 devices in more than 700 locations across the world, a Zebra spokeswoman said. She said Disney usually uses one device at each of its restaurant locations and is still ordering devices for a worldwide rollout. The Chefs app can run on any Android device, of which the Zebra MC40 is one option.

Disney is for the first time licensing the system it built more than six years ago with iCertainty to outside restaurants and chains, including Bloomin’ Brands, owner of Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, and Texas Roadhouse. Roy’s Chicago, at 720 N. State St., also is a customer, the Zebra spokeswoman said. Pricing varies based on client needs.

“Whether it’s food safety or ride safety, we’ve long been active in ways to enhance safety,” a Disney spokeswoman said. “We’re happy to share our best practices that can help others improve safety at their organizations.”