The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Tuesday revealed the agency's resolutions for fiscal year 2014.
The resolutions – as part of the Annual Performance Plan – are released every year in December. The plan lists results the agency plans to achieve between now and the end of the fiscal year, in September, 2014.
"The goals listed in our APP are all measurable," USDA FSIS Deputy Administrator Phil Derfler wrote in a blog post. "By setting specific targets and measuring our progress throughout the year, we have a clearer picture of what is working well, which initiatives are not effective, and where we may not be challenging ourselves enough."
Derfler said FSIS makes the targets public to advance accountability. "We are giving the regulated industry, consumers, and other interested persons an overview of our priorities and of our expectations for the year ahead," he explained.
The number one priority in this year's APP is to reduce consumer exposure to Salmonella, a goal previously mentioned in a report released on Dec. 4.
According to FSIS, illnesses from Salmonella have been steady, if not rising, in recent years. FSIS has proposed inspection modernization and data development, as well as consumer outreach tactics, to control Salmonella. FSIS estimates just by focusing inspectors' duties solely on food safety, at least 5,000 illnesses can be prevented each year.
"We committed to preventing as many illnesses as possible from Salmonella," Derfler said.
The goals fall in line with FSIS' efforts over the past several years to modernize operations and become more efficient and effective.
"Everything in this year's APP, and those from the past two years, is tied to one of the eight overriding goals that we set out for ourselves in our 2011-2016 Strategic Plan. We recognize we may not meet all of them, but we have to measure what we are doing to know how much progress we are making. This is not only good government, it is how we achieve our mission while being good stewards of taxpayer resources," Derfler wrote.
Other goals contained in the APP include maximizing domestic and international compliance with food safety policies and enhancing public education to advance food safety practices.
The plan also includes several goals under the strategic theme of understanding and influencing the farm-to-table continuum. Those goals include using science to understand foodborne illness trends and implementing policies to counteract existing and emerging risks.
Click here to read the complete APP.