With just a flicker of blue light, school officials soon might know for sure whether their food-service employees washed their hands thoroughly before serving lunch. New light-scanning technology borrowed from the slaughterhouse promises to help hospital workers, restaurant employees--one day, even kids--make sure that hand washing zaps some germs that can carry deadly illnesses.

A device the size of an electric hand dryer detects fecal contamination and pinpoints on a digital display where on a person's hands more scrubbing is needed.

eMerge Interactive Inc. of Sebastian, Fla.,...

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