Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response, submits his resignation

At the moment Frank Yiannas knowledgeable Commissioner Robert Califf of the U. S. Meals and Drug Administration that he might be resigning his place as Deputy Commissioner for the Workplace of Meals Coverage and Response on the FDA efficient Feb. 24.

“I’m honored to have served the American public, alongside each certainly one of you, over these previous 4 years,” Yiannas mentioned in an electronic mail addressed to FDA Meals Companions, colleagues, and mates.

In his letter to Commissioner Califf,  Yiannis cited how he first thought of leaving the FDA in February 2022, over his concern that the decentralized construction of the meals program considerably impaired the FDA’s capability to function as an built-in meals crew and defend the general public.

Nevertheless, Yiannis delayed his resignation after studying final February of the toddler components incidents that had been reported to varied elements of the FDA a number of months earlier than. Yiannis postponed this resolution to assist sort out this disaster. 

“With the Abbott facility now reopened, toddler components availability is extra prevalent, and – very importantly – the mandatory monitoring, knowledge programs, and insights at the moment are in place via the 21 Ahead platform to assist tackle the present and any future toddler components provide chain challenges, I imagine the time is correct for me to depart,” Yiannas mentioned in his letter to Califf.

Yiannas left Califf with a number of two issues to think about. “One, based mostly on my expertise these previous 4 years, I (in addition to a various group of Bipartisan Congressional Leaders and Shopper, State Regulatory, & Trade Stakeholder Teams) firmly imagine the company would function extra successfully and be higher in a position to defend the American public from foodborne sickness, with the creation of a extra built-in working construction and a completely empowered and skilled Deputy Commissioner for Meals, with direct oversight of these facilities and places of work chargeable for human and animal meals. On this method, he or she can extra effectively make the mandatory modifications which are wanted to remodel FDA’s Meals Program for the twenty first Century.”

Secondly, Yiannas urged Califf to think about transferring the “small, but distinctive” workers comprising the Workplace of Meals Coverage and Response (OFPR) to a brand new workplace of the Deputy Commissioner for Meals.

Yiannas assumed the place of deputy commissioner for meals coverage and response on the FDA in December 2018. Since then, he has acted because the principal advisor to the FDA commissioner within the growth and execution of insurance policies associated to meals security, together with the implementation of the landmark FDA Meals Security Modernization Act (FSMA). His obligations have included meals security priorities akin to outbreak response, traceback investigations, product recall actions, and provide chain innovation.

“In closing, whereas I’ll quickly be departing the company, relaxation assured that I’ll proceed rooting for you,” Yiannis mentioned in his electronic mail to colleagues and mates. “As for me, whereas I’ve no speedy plans or subsequent steps to announce in the present day, I’ll proceed to hunt methods to work collectively to create a safer, smarter, and extra sustainable meals system that can profit customers, meals producers, and the planet for generations to return. “

The complete letter might be learn beneath:

Dr. Califf:

This letter is to tell you that I’m resigning my place as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Meals Coverage and Response efficient February 24.

In December 2018, I joined the FDA with the aim of serving to to modernize the meals security oversight system in the US and defending the American individuals from contaminated meals. I wished to construct on my work of defending customers by elevating meals security requirements and constructing simpler, trendy, and progressive meals security approaches, one thing I did within the non-public sector for greater than 30 years.

Regardless of the unprecedented challenges we’ve confronted prior to now 4 years (akin to a world pandemic, unparalleled meals provide chain disruptions, and 6 totally different appearing or everlasting commissioners), because of the devoted workers engaged on meals security all through the FDA, I imagine we made actual enhancements in the direction of this aim.

Advancing FSMA

First, nearly a decade since its passage and after the company skilled three separate lawsuits (earlier than my arrival) for failing to realize a number of Meals Security Modernization Act (FSMA) mandates, we made wanted and strategic progress by tackling two of essentially the most important, difficult, and excellent FSMA rulemakings by issuing a Last Meals Traceability Rule and a brand new, proposed Agricultural Water Customary. Whereas the FSMA-projected reductions in foodborne diseases have but to be realized a decade later, these two guidelines, as soon as absolutely applied, might be game-changers in permitting these reductions to turn out to be a actuality.

A New Period of Smarter Meals Security

However we didn’t cease there. Fashionable instances require extra trendy approaches. Due to this fact, shortly after my arrival, we assembled a number of the brightest minds in meals security from inside and out of doors the FDA to assist us put together for the long run. Primarily based on their enter, in 2020 and underneath the auspices of a New Period of Smarter Meals Security, we unveiled a brand new imaginative and prescient and blueprint for the following decade to modernize the best way FDA does its meals security work and to bend the curve of foodborne sickness as soon as and for all on this nation. And in two quick years, we achieved a tremendous quantity of labor. For instance, we leveraged smarter instruments for prevention used for the very first time within the FDA’s meals program, akin to using Synthetic Intelligence to strengthen our capability to detect and forestall violative shipments of imported seafood from reaching the U.S. client. We additionally expedited and facilitated using Tech-enabled Meals Traceability to higher monitor and hint meals and to create a extra clear meals system. And at a time of heightened meals provide chain disruptions, we unleashed the facility of knowledge with the event of 21 Ahead, a first-of-its-kind meals provide chain analytical platform to establish meals services at best danger of meals provide chain disruptions, and to supply focus to areas the place we must always fortify resilience. We additionally launched a pilot to judge if choose third-party meals security requirements aligned with FSMA and decide what function they may play within the nation’s meals security oversight system. And we superior the idea of Meals Security Tradition to realize greater charges of compliance and to mobilize the trade to do the identical, realizing that advancing meals security requires going past conventional approaches, via a greater understanding of human habits and organizational dynamics.

A Document of Prevention

Importantly, whereas regulatory actions matter, they’re not what issues most. What issues most is the outcomes or confirmed outcomes that our work is reaching in reductions in foodborne diseases. And early indications are that we’ve been profitable right here too, whether or not it’s been via our work to rally stakeholders to interrupt the cycle of recurring outbreaks round Thanksgiving linked to contemporary leafy greens via FDA’s Leafy Inexperienced Motion Plan or, after 8 years and eight outbreaks, breaking the cycle of Salmonellosis through the summer season linked to imported papayas, via an enhanced Meals Security Partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, as simply a few examples.

Tackling Foodborne Outbreaks Sooner

And whereas prevention has been and should all the time be our focus, tackling foodborne outbreaks sooner and revealing their root trigger can be important to stopping future outbreaks, so right here too, we made important progress. For instance, we strengthened FDA’s foodborne outbreak investigations and nearly doubled the variety of outbreak investigation stories the company now publishes. Additionally, as a dedication to larger transparency, we started a strategy of sharing details about the outbreaks the FDA is investigating via a weekly outbreak replace desk, even earlier than there’s any actionable data. And importantly, we accomplished an unbiased assessment of our outbreak investigation processes that led to the event of a Foodborne Outbreak Response Enchancment Plan.

I wish to THANK all of these within the FDA who’ve dedicated themselves to those efforts and I hope they’re given the chance to proceed this vital work sooner or later. I maintain the meals security workers all through the company within the highest regard, for his or her experience, their expertise, and – most of all – their dedication to the general public.

Seeking to the Future

In February 2022, as you rejoined the company, I shared with you that I used to be contemplating leaving, expressing my concern that the decentralized construction of the meals program that you simply and I each inherited, considerably impaired the FDA’s capability to function as an built-in meals crew and defend the general public. It was additionally in February of 2022 that I first discovered of the toddler components incidents that had been reported to varied elements of the FDA a number of months earlier than, so I postponed this resolution and devoted myself and my workers to doing all we might to assist sort out this disaster. With the Abbott facility now reopened, toddler components availability is extra prevalent, and – very importantly – the mandatory monitoring, knowledge programs, and insights at the moment are in place via the 21 Ahead platform to assist tackle the present and any future toddler components provide chain challenges, I imagine the time is correct for me to depart.

My fervent hope is that American customers, particularly moms and dads of infants, by no means once more need to face the sort of preventable state of affairs. It’s incumbent on any public group that has undergone a disaster of this magnitude to bear an “unbiased” and thorough assessment to grasp how the disaster occurred, what might be achieved to stop it from occurring once more, and that the entire findings be transparently shared with the general public. I’m grateful that Congressional leaders have demanded that this occur and that the Workplace of the Inspector Normal has initiated its personal investigation.

Lastly, whereas I respect that these are choices solely you might be empowered to make, I do wish to go away you with a few ideas for consideration. One, based mostly on my expertise these previous 4 years, I (in addition to a various group of Bipartisan Congressional Leaders and Shopper, State Regulatory, & Trade Stakeholder Teams) firmly imagine the company would function extra successfully and be higher in a position to defend the American public from foodborne sickness, with the creation of a extra built-in working construction and a completely empowered and skilled Deputy Commissioner for Meals, with direct oversight of these facilities and places of work chargeable for human and animal meals. On this method, he or she can extra effectively make the mandatory modifications which are wanted to remodel FDA’s Meals Program for the twenty first Century. Secondly, I additionally urge you to think about transferring the small, but distinctive workers comprising the Workplace of Meals Coverage and Response (OFPR) to a brand new workplace of the Deputy Commissioner for Meals.

In closing, I’ll all the time stay grateful for the chance to have served our one and solely true boss, the approximate 340 million American customers nationwide. Serving them has been an honor and a privilege.

Frank Yiannas

Deputy Commissioner, Meals Coverage and Response 

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