Food safety leader Dean Cliver passes away

Dr. Dean Otis Cliver, born March 2, 1935, died Monday, May 16, 2011, at his home in Davis, California.

A graduate of Purdue University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Dean completed his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in the spring of 1959. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the Food Research Institute from 1962 to 1995 and was a professor at UC Davis from 1995 to 2008, continuing as a professor emeritus until his recent illness.

Dean was a respected and widely published member of the worldwide scientific community, with his work taking him to countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America. In his work with foodborne diseases Dean was often called for information by members of the media, as he was known for his ability to make science understandable to non-scientists. He was a long-time IFT scientific communicator and regularly worked with the media providing information on food safety practices (particularly recognized for research on cutting boards), food irradiation, and BSE (mad cow disease).

He was known for his research on virology and from 1969 was a consultant to the World Health Organization on virus transmission in foods. He and his wife Carolyn opened their home to many foreign students who later became part of their extended family.

I didn’t know Dean that well, but he would e-mail me frequently about the food safety issues of the day. He contributed to in 2008, and came up with the most apt bio I’ve had the pleasure of publishing:

“Dr. Cliver officially retired October 1, 2007 and is winding down from 46 years in academia, battling infectious agents in food and water. His research career has led him to see the world as if peering outward through the anal orifice: this ‘reverse proctoscopy’ confers a unique viewpoint.”

He will be missed.