Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner of food policy and response, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from the position, effective February 24, 2023.
Yiannas assumed the position in December 2018 and has been instrumental in overseeing the agency’s “New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” a plan that builds on foundations set down in the Food Safety Modernization Act and focuses on technology and traceability.
His resignation announcement comes on the heels of the infant formula crisis. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf announcing his upcoming departure, Yiannas recalls how he considered leaving the agency in early 2022, until the formula incidents helped him decide to postpone his decision so that he could assist in tackling the crisis. With the Abbott facility involved in the outbreak now reopen, and infant formula becoming more available, he has revisited his 2022 decision. In the letter, he notes that “the necessary monitoring, data systems, and insights are now in place through the 21 Forward platform to help address the current and any future infant formula supply chain challenges.” Yiannas says he felt this was the right time to leave.
In the letter, Yiannas also urged Califf to “consider transferring the small, yet exceptional staff comprising the Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR) to a new office of the Deputy Commissioner for Foods.”