Citing structural issues, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas, resigned this week. He will leave the post on February 24.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf (read the full text at Food Safety News), Yiannas highlighted the agency’s accomplishments over the past few years, including advancing new FSMA rules (the Final Food Traceability Rule and the proposed Agricultural Water Standard), unveiling the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” blueprint for modernizing food safety systems through technology, and strengthening foodborne outbreak investigations.
But, he also noted that the current structure of the agency hinders it from achieving its mission. Yiannas said he considered leaving the agency in February 2022 due to “concern that the decentralized structure of the food program…significantly impaired the FDA’s ability to operate as an integrated food team and protect the public.” He postponed his departure because of the baby formula crisis.
To address these problems, Yiannas urged Califf to “[create] 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.” He also recommended transferring the Office of Food Policy and Response to a new office of the Deputy Commissioner for Foods.