Major challenges are as follows:
- Budgets - All levels of government, and in some cases private industry as well, are experiencing budget reductions. As traditional sources of program funding decline, program efficiency must be increased and new sources of revenue must be considered.
- Competition - Retail food programs often compete with other environmental health programs for funding, staff, and prominence.
- Consumer Expectations - In general, the public expects that food offered at retail is "guaranteed" safe by the government.
- Media - Program focus, consumer confidence, and program resources may be impacted by media attention.
- Regulatory Environment - The least burdensome regulatory approach is used to minimize government intrusion, to allow the free-market forces to work, and to cut the size/number of regulations.
- Special Interest Groups - Trade associations to consumer organizations want to be heard and expect to influence policy decisions.
- Stakeholders - Cooperation and acceptance of a national retail food program by State, local and tribal regulatory retail food programs; industry; and consumer organizations are difficult to achieve.
- Turnover - The constant need for training of new food employees, food managers, and those providing oversight stretches monetary and human resources.
This Operational Plan provides a timely vehicle for the renewal of FDA's commitment to retail food safety and supports the goals of the Government Performance Review Act (GPRA). The use of HACCP; the Food Code; the draft National Voluntary Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards; partnerships with regulatory retail food programs; teamwork within FDA; and input from stakeholders can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness and promote food safety and security in the United States.