Restaurants and retailers (e.g., grocery stores) are the final point in the distribution system of foods. Both types of organization are concerned about the safety of their food as the companies' reputation as a safe source of food is important to their commercial success. Larger companies insist on stringent attention to hygiene and equipment maintenance, both at the supplier and the restaurant or store. To accomplish this goal, restaurant chains employ a quality assurance practice that collects voluminous amounts of data and seeks to reduce statistical variation as much as possible. These data can be of potential benefit to biosurveillance as they help identify the most vulnerable points in companies' operations. An increase in variation of food appearance, freshness, or amount of spoilage can be a symptom of either unintentional or intentional actions or omissions.
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