Aug 4, 2023
Ex-FDA leader to advise tech startup on traceability rule

Former Food and Drug Administration official Frank Yiannas, who resigned from that agency earlier this year, has joined startup Internet of Things technology company Wiliot as a strategic advisor.

Yiannas served as deputy commissioner of food policy and response for the FDA. He resigned in January ahead of sweeping changes announced by the federal agency aimed at countering criticism of its organizational structure.

Former Food and Drug Administration official Frank Yiannas has joined startup Internet of Things technology company Wiliot as a strategic advisor. Photo: Provided

Yiannas will provide Wiliot guidance on educating retailers and food producers on how the IoT can help with compliance with the FDA’s new traceability rule, according to a news release.

“The FDA’s new food traceability rule has become a catalyst for retailers to modernize their supply chains,” Wiliot CEO Tal Tamir said in the release. “Frank’s leadership in food safety and response will be pivotal in helping us educate the market on how this moment and the adoption of ambient IoT by some of the world’s largest retailers can enable the food business to meet their societal and regulatory traceability requirements.”

Ambient IoT is a battery-free wireless technology being incorporated into applications including Bluetooth, 5G Advanced, 6G and Wi-Fi.

Yiannas will collaborate with executives, solutions development leaders and sales and marketing teams to help retailers to achieve FSMA Rule 204 compliance using Wiliot’s ambient IoT platform, according to the release.

Wiliot, founded in 2017, is based in Caesarea, Israel, with customer operations in San Diego.

“Modernizing food safety approaches is critical to the health and wellbeing of people everywhere,” Yiannas said in the release. “This goal cannot be achieved without creating greater transparency and traceability throughout the entire food continuum — across farms, food processing and distribution centers, and retail stores.”

Finalized in November 2022, the FDA’s FSMA Rule 204 rule focuses on tracking food at each step across the supply chain to enhance visibility and enable a better response to foodborne illnesses, contamination and other public health and safety issues.

The rule has a January 2026 compliance deadline.

Yiannas cited the FDA’s response to last year’s nationwide infant formula shortage is his resignation earlier this year. He told FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf that the previous structure of the foods program “significantly impaired FDA’s ability to operate as an integrated food team and protect the public” in his resignation letter.

The FDA announced a redesigning of its Human Foods Program in February and proposed a restructuring of its Office of Regulatory Affairs in June.

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