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Faculty-Founded Food Safety Tech Firm Acquired by Longtime Partner

By Jordan Dunklee

Hazel Analytics, a global leader in food safety technologies born out of University of Maryland research, was recently acquired by longtime partner and global sustainability leader Ecolab.

Co-founded in 2014 by economics Professor Ginger Jin, computer science Professor Emeritus Ben Bederson and others, it was funded in part by the Maryland Innovation Initiative. Hazel Analytics now serves more than 200 global food service and retail brands and over half of the world’s 100 largest restaurant chains; last year it announced a partnership with Yelp to provide restaurant and food service hygiene data and health scores for more than 800,000 restaurants on the crowdsourced review platform.

The company in 2017 became Ecolab’s exclusive worldwide partner for health department technology. Following the recent acquisition, Hazel will now operate within Ecolab’s EcoSure division specializing in brand protection and risk management.

“We wanted our work to improve food safety nationwide and benefit public health overall, and this agreement with Ecolab will help us achieve those goals on an even larger scale than we thought possible,” Jin said.

The co-founders developed the concept for Hazel Analytics based on their research that automated the collection of local public health department data and centralized the information for monitoring. With critical support from UM Ventures on IP, licensing agreements and startup advising, as well as from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the company grew to produce the largest database of food safety inspection information in the United States.

“The technology we created transformed the way organizations across industries use data to proactively monitor food safety and regulatory compliance, and makes it easier for both food service providers and customers to ensure what they’re serving and eating is safe,” Bederson said.

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