The below from Dr. Scott Gottlieb just dropped into my inbox. We all will miss Dr. Stephen Ostroff. He has been a great champion for food safety for many years and will be missed. I wish him well. However, pulling Frank Yiannas from Walmart to the FDA is a brilliant move. I have known and respected Frank for years. His commitment to changing the culture of food safety – specifically through transparency – will be welcome at the FDA.
I’d like to share with you some important changes to our FDA food safety leadership team – changes that build on the program’s outstanding strength, but are also, for me, bittersweet.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff will be retiring from the agency on January 5th, after a distinguished and dedicated career in public service, including over five years of exceptional service to FDA.
Since joining the FDA in 2013, Dr. Ostroff has epitomized our commitment to the public health and science-based decision making, through his work across all of our product areas, and especially his work on modernizing the FDA’s – and the nation’s — food safety activities.
During his time at the FDA, Dr. Ostroff has served as a dedicated leader, first at the Chief Medical Officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and then as the agency’s Chief Scientist. Most recently, Steve has been instrumental in his role as Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
Notably, Dr. Ostroff served twice for a total of 15 months as the FDA’s Acting Commissioner, guiding the Agency through periods of transition, advancing its mission, and ensuring we upheld the FDA’s public health mission during times of change. Throughout my time as Commissioner, I’ve relied on Dr. Ostroff’s deep experience, thoughtful perspective, and strong leadership during many complicated and pivotal policy discussions, food outbreaks, and recall events.
Irrespective of his role at the Agency, Dr. Ostroff’s work advanced the FDA’s public health prerogatives and upheld its vital consumer mission. I’m immensely grateful for his many contributions. I know he’ll continue to have an important influence on the public health.
I’m delighted to announce that we’ll be welcoming Frank Yiannas to the FDA leadership team as Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. In this role, Mr. Yiannas will report directly to me, and he’ll head the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Ostroff was instrumental in recruiting Mr. Yiannas to the Agency. Dr. Ostroff will remain at the FDA until January as a senior advisor to me, and will help Mr. Yiannas transition into his new role.
Mr. Yiannas is a globally renowned food safety and supply chain expert and thought leader. Throughout his private sector career – most recently as Vice President of Food Safety and Health for Walmart, he’s been a food safety champion and instrumental in forging public-private collaborations to advance public health.
He’s been recognized for his role in elevating food safety standards and building effective food safety management systems based on modern science and risk-based prevention principles. Mr. Yiannas is a globally acknowledged pioneer in using blockchain technology to strengthen food traceability capabilities and enable greater food system transparency.
In addition to his food safety leadership roles at Walmart and Disney, Mr. Yiannas previously served as the president of the International Association for Food Protection. He’s an Adjunct Professor in the Food Safety Program at Michigan State University, and the author of many scholarly papers on food safety and books on food safety culture and behavior.
As Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, Mr. Yiannas will assume a critical set of charges related to food safety, first and foremost, leading the continued implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. In this role, he’ll work in close collaboration with the leadership of Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the food components of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Yiannas’s deep knowledge and diverse experience will support our continued efforts to advance the FDA’s strategies for continuing to reduce food safety risks and achieving high rates of compliance with our modernization standards.
Mr. Yiannas also will serve as a senior scientific advisor to the Commissioner on various food safety and supply chain matters, including FSMA implementation. Additionally, he’ll help lead and coordinate certain cross-cutting policy activities and associated external engagement activities related to food safety and animal health. We’ll also leverage his experience and leadership across the Agency, and all product areas, on the issues of supply chain security and the use of new tracking technology, recall effectiveness, and traceback investigation processes.
We look forward to his contributions to our food safety mission and our efforts to keep families safe. Please join me in wishing Dr. Ostroff well and welcoming Mr. Yiannas to FDA.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb
Commissioner of Food and Drugs