John H Silliker (1923-2015)
ICMSF mourns the passing of one of its seminal members Dr John H Silliker.
John was a member of the Commission from 1974-1987 and was Treasurer from 1981-1987.
John contributed a great deal to food microbiology and was a pioneer in Salmonella research. Dr. Silliker worked for nine years at Chicago-based Swift and Co., rising to the position of chief microbiologist and associate director of research, before founding Silliker Laboratories in south suburban Chicago Heights in 1967.
In the 1970s he published extensively with ICMSF on methods for detecting Salmonella in moist and dried foods along with the influence of selective enrichment media and incubation temperatures. He was also one of the first people to carry out collaborative/comparative studies on determination of coliforms using the most probably number procedure.
As a member of the Commission, John helped in many ways, such as bringing the HACCP concept to its current level of maturity through ICMSF Book 4. Three new principles were added by the Commission to the original concept advocated by Pillsbury, US Army Natick Labs and NASA. That effort led to the adoption by the US National Advisory Committee and CCFH of the current 7 principles of HACCP.
Along with a few other Commission members he contributed to the "Green Book" published by the US National Academy of Sciences which concluded that it is better to apply preventive programs such as HACCP rather than relying on microbiological testing of finished product as the preferred, more effective means to manage food safety. This provided the direction needed at that time for ICMSF to advocate preventive controls over end product testing.
John also developed the concept of using sponges to collect environmental samples and detect harbourage sites. He also demonstrated the feasibility of enriching large quantities of composited product; thus, making it practical to analyze 15, 30 or 60 x 25g samples. Many of John’s contributions were adopted by the Commission and incorporated into our books.
In 2008, the ICMSF received the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Food Safety Award and it was a real honour for us to have John join the current members of the Commission on stage to help receive the award. It is thanks to the hard work of past members like John and their willingness to share their expertise and to mentor younger members that the Commission has been able to have the impact it has in food safety management.
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