Frank Yiannas, nearing completion of his first year as FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, opened the 2019 Food Safety Consortium Conference recently in Schaumburg, IL. This was his third time to present at the event. His first two were while serving as Walmart’s global vice president for food safety.

The man’s passion for food safety continued to be evident as he revisited a topic he has long raised as a mission critical flag — the culture of food safety.

Yiannas literally wrote the book on the topic with the publishing of his “Food Safety Culture: Creating a Behavior-Based Food Safety Management System.” Food safety was defined simply as “behavior” and Yiannas shared his vision of the sea change we are experiencing. He described the creation of a “new era of smarter food safety.”

Technology investment is leading a “revolution” where food systems are increasingly digitized, according to the FDA’s top food safety person. Deep-dive data is driving actionable information and innovation.

Comments about the Food Safety Modernization Act were woven though much of Yiannas’s presentation, highlighting the 2011 introduction of it as a valuable foundation on which to apply many new and emerging technologies. He also reflected on his industry experience when he advised the audience that “. . . only the simple solutions will be implemented.”

Market complexities, including international sourcing, social media and home delivery, are raising the value of all things traceable, Yiannas said. This “gives more weight” to the FDA in achieving more effective and efficient food safety systems — smarter food safety systems as Yiannas described them.

We at the Handwashing For Life Institute welcomed the perspective presented by Yiannas and loudly applaud the call for data, particularly when addressing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the biggest unresolved risk, unwashed hands.

Electronic monitoring has been demonstrated to change handwashing behaviors in a sustainable way.

Successful implementation of new technologies such as voice recognition is lighting the path to smarter food safety systems. For more details search for “Crushed Red” on hanwashingforlife.com.

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