Frank Yiannas announced today that he is resigning from his position as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, effective Feb. 24.
In his resignation letter to Dr. Robert Califf, FDA Commissioner, Yiannas shared that he had voiced thoughts of leaving the agency to Califf in February 2022, “expressing my concern that the decentralized structure of the foods program that you and I both inherited significantly impaired FDA’s ability to operate as an integrated food team and protect the public.” However, he stayed on to address the infant formula crisis that rocked the country that month following Abbott Nutrition’s recall of its products due to consumer complaints of bacterial infection.
“With the Abbott facility now reopened, infant formula availability more prevalent, and — very importantly — the necessary monitoring, data systems, and insights now in place through the 21 Forward platform to help address the current and any future infant formula supply chain challenges, I believe the time is right for me to leave and vacate this position,” Yiannas wrote in his resignation letter.
He added that he believes the FDA could better protect the American public from foodborne illness “with the creation of a more integrated operating structure and a fully empowered and experienced Deputy Commissioner for Foods, with direct oversight of those centers and offices responsible for human and animal foods.”
Yiannas has held the position of FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response since December 2018. During his time at the agency, Yiannas worked to further Food Safety Modernization Act mandates by issuing a Final Food Traceability Rule and a new proposed Agricultural Water Standard.
Under Yiannas’ leadership, the FDA unveiled the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint in July 2020, a vision for the next decade with goals to enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, address new business models, reduce contamination of food and foster the development of stronger food safety cultures.
Yiannas said in an email to colleagues and friends that he has no immediate plans for the future, “but I’ll continue to seek ways to work together to create a safer, smarter, and more sustainable food system that will benefit consumers, food producers, and the planet for generations to come.”
He also plans to reactivate his personal website, www.frankyiannas.com.
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