Frank Yiannas, the former Food & Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy & Response, has joined Wiliot as Strategic Advisor.
SAN DIEGO, August 3, 2023 – Frank Yiannas, the former Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy & Response of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), has joined Wiliot as a Strategic Advisor.
With his appointment, Yiannas will help advise the food and retail markets on the ways in which the ambient IoT, and the real-time, item-level visibility it delivers, can help meet the FSMA Rule 204 obligation that requires the safe tracking of food products and the sharing of traceability data with the FDA and consumers.
“The FDA’s New Food Traceability Rule has become a catalyst for retailers to modernize their supply chains,” said Wiliot CEO Tal Tamir. “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.”
“The Wiliot Visibility Platform provides food retailers with a real-time view into each product throughout its journey from farm-to-store,” Tamir continued. “Frank has a unique understanding of how that will transform the food industry – reducing waste, extending shelf life, improving quality, and optimizing labor – while helping retailers maintain FSMA 204 compliance and its mandate for accuracy.”
Making the case for ambient IoT
The Ambient IoT, a battery-free wireless technology, is now integrated into various wireless standards like Bluetooth, 5G Advanced, 6G, and Wi-Fi. This incorporation allows products such as food, medicine, and clothing to connect to the internet and harness the power of AI at a significantly reduced cost compared to older technologies.
With the Ambient IoT, a new real-time inventory paradigm emerges, offering benefits not only in terms of compliance and safety but also providing the key to streamlining store operations, successfully navigating the challenges of omni-channel competition, and competing based on both quality and value.
Previously, barcode techniques suffered from high labor costs and low accuracy and compliance. While legacy RFID tags have been available for years, their infrastructure and reader expenses necessitated limited visibility and accuracy through handheld scanning. The Ambient IoT represents an evolution of this technology, utilizing commodity Bluetooth radios, along with the latest security and sensing capabilities, and the ability to interact with smartphones, which are already widely prevalent in stores.
Optimizing Wiliot’s platform within the food safety ecosystem
In addition to Yiannas’ thought leadership in the Ambient IoT industry, he will also offer guidance to Wiliot on how to best utilize its platform within the food safety ecosystem to enhance food safety and traceability. He will collaborate with executives, leaders in solution development, sales, and marketing teams to determine the most suitable approach for retailers to achieve compliance with FSMA Rule 204 using Wiliot’s Visibility Platform. Additionally, he will advise on key partnerships with consultants, systems integrators, and application software vendors to strengthen the platform and enable food companies and their software application partners to deliver a comprehensive FSMA Rule 204 solution.
“Modernizing food safety is critical to the health and wellbeing of people everywhere,” Yiannas said. “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. Wiliot, through its pioneering use of ambient IoT, is in a unique position to enable this transparency to become a reality faster and more efficiently than others. They have demonstrated that their Visibility Platform – using battery-free postage stamp-sized IoT Pixels – is a game-changer that can significantly help the entire food industry create safer, more traceable supply chains.”
FSMA Rule 204 expands traceability beyond ‘one-up, one-back’
Finalized in November 2022, the FDA’s FSMA Rule 204 rule establishes a foundation for end-to-end food traceability by focusing on tracking food at each step across the supply chain and expands beyond ‘one-up, one-back’ traceability. The goal of Rule 204 is to create visibility within the supply chain to enable a better response to foodborne illnesses, contamination, and other public health and safety issues. The rule, which has now been finalized, has a January 2026 compliance deadline.
Frank Yiannas is a widely recognized figure in the field of food safety, holding various roles as an executive, food system futurist, author, professor, and former president of the International Association of Food Protection. During his tenure from 2018 to 2023, he served as the Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under two different administrations. Prior to this, he amassed three decades of leadership experience with two prominent companies: Walmart and the Walt Disney Company.
Wiliot’s revolutionary battery-free IoT Pixels offer the capability to attach to any food product or packaging, effectively connecting them to the internet and imbuing them with intelligent features. Once attached, these products can transmit essential information about their location, temperature, carbon footprint, and more, providing food retailers and companies with high-definition real-time data. Such data is now a vital requirement for compliance with FSMA Rule 204.
“Frank tends not to focus on vendor solutions, so his appointment is a testament to the merits of this new wave of ambient IoT tools,” concluded Tamir. “It represents the latest evolution of RFID technology and builds upon its successes in ways that helps retailers to reduce labor costs, increase efficiencies, manage their carbon footprint – all while also achieving FSMA Rule 204 compliance.”
Wiliot is already working with some of the world’s largest food retailers and companies on ambient IoT projects that ensure FSMA Rule 204 compliance, an initiative that will now be accelerated by Yiannas’ appointment.
To hear Frank Yiannas talk with podcaster Steve Statler about the connection between FSMA 204 and ambient IoT, check out www.wiliot.com/podcasts/Ambient_IoT_and_FSMA.