Artificial intelligence captures unhygienic practices in Chinese kitchens

12th of March 2019
Artificial intelligence captures unhygienic practices in Chinese kitchens

Chefs in China who smoke in the kitchen or fail to wash their hands before preparing food could soon be caught in the act by artificial intelligence.

Authorities in Shaoxing, a city in Zhejiang, have developed a new system capable of recognising poor hygiene habits. These are then caught on camera and sent to the administrators via a mobile alert.

The technology has been created as part of a six-year "Sunshine Kitchen" project aimed at helping businesses to improve their operations while allowing consumers to see how their food is being prepared by caterers, restaurants, hotels and school canteens.

The system combines artificial intelligence algorithm analysis with Internet of Things technology to search camera footage for 18 "risk management" areas. It can identify eight kinds of misbehaviour including smoking and playing on mobile phones, and recognise four positive habits such as regular hand washing and disinfecting the kitchen.

Director of the Shaoxing Food Service Supervision Department Zhou Feng says the system is like giving the city a "super brain". At the Xianheng Hotel where the system is currently in use, a large screen with a dashboard shows footage of any irregular behaviour caught on camera along with the number of misdeeds detected in the kitchen that day.

Eighty-seven catering companies in Shaoxing have trialled the system so far and the developers aim to roll it out across more than 1,000 large-scale caterers and school canteens in 2019.

China continues to grapple with food safety issues with scandals ranging from fake eggs to diseased pork, recycled cooking oil and mislabelled meat all coming to light in recent years.



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