Frank Yiannas, a senior Food and Drug Administration official responsible for the agency’s Food Policy and Response Office, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his role as deputy commissioner.
Yiannas was among FDA officials guiding the agency as it navigated its way through the past year lack of infant formula after Abbott Laboratories voluntarily ceased production in the country largest formula factory According to the following reports, infants who consumed formula from the plant became ill.
His resignation comes days after Abbott Laboratories confirmed the Justice Department did so investigation of the company about its baby food facility in Michigan.
“Today I informed the commissioner [Robert] Califf that I will be stepping down from my position as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Nutrition Policy and Response effective February 24,” Yiannas tweeted. “I am honored to have served the American public with each and every one of you over the past four years.”
Since December 2018, Yiannas has been involved in the development and implementation of food safety policies, including outbreak response, foodborne disease investigation tracing, product recalls and supply chain innovation.
Yiannas’ resignation announcement comes weeks after a panel of experts made a damning decision report in examining FDA’s processes and organizational structure for its food program. Among other things, the committee criticized a “cultural, structural and governance model” that reduces the effectiveness of the program.
That investigation was ordered by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf in July after growing criticism from the agency abused the formula crisis after illnesses were reported.
Yiannas’ letter of resignation received from the Washington Postcited inheriting a “decentralized structure” at the agency’s food program, which he runs, which he said “significantly impacted FDA’s ability to operate as an integrated food team and protect the public.”
NBC News has reached out to Yiannas for comment.
In a statement, the FDA commended Yiannas for his service on the agency’s executive team, saying his efforts to address key initiatives helped “create a safer and more digital, traceable food system for our country.”
“The FDA remains committed to providing an update on steps taken to strengthen the Human Foods program by the end of January and further updates on the organizational structure by the end of February, including how the responsibilities for Mr. Yiannas’ position will be managed going forward ‘ an FDA spokesman said in a statement.