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Dr. Lloyd Hall: Pioneer who devoted his life to food preservation

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A Look at Black Chicagoans Who Shaped History

Lloyd Hall played an essential role in the food industry. He invented a way to preserve foods.

Lloyd Hall was born in Elgin, IL, on June 20, 1894. His father, Augustus Hall, was a Baptist minister. Hall’s grandfather was one of the founders of the historic Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Chicago and was the church’s first pastor in 1841.

Hall was an honor student and captain of the debate team and played baseball, track, and football at West Side High School in Aurora, IL. After graduating from the top of his high school class, Hall received his Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University in 1914, a Master of Science from Northwestern in 1916, and a Doctor of Science from Virginia State College in 1944.

Before Dr. Hall's inventions, the only way to preserve food was by using salt which tasted bitter. Hall experimented using sodium chloride, with tiny crystals of nitrate and sodium nitrate, to suppress the nitrogen that spoiled the food. Hall then developed antioxidants, including lecithin, to stop foods' fats and oil from spoiling. Hall discovered spices, including cloves and ginger, had large amounts of bacteria, yeast, and mold that were dangerous. He also invented a system that used ethylene oxide gas in a vacuum sterilization process to purify foods that effectively destroyed food-borne microbes. This system was later adapted to sterilize hospital supplies, cosmetics, and prescription drugs.

Hall served in many capacities in the field of food preservation. He served as junior and senior Sanitary Chemist of Chicago's Department of Health laboratories from 1915 to 1919. Hall served as chief chemist for John Morrel and Company of Ottuma, IL, from 1919-1921, was President of the Chemical Products Corporation, Chicago from 1921 to 1924. He also served as a consultant for Griffith's Laboratories from 1925 to 1929, and later as Technical Director and Chief Chemist of Griffith's Laboratories in Chicago from 1929 to 1946 and Technical Director from 1946 to 1959.

Dr. Lloyd Hall

Dr. Hall held over 100 patents worldwide in food chemistry and different sterilization techniques.

After retiring from Griffith's Laboratories, he became a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, where he was responsible for sharing his advances to keep food with flavor and fresh.

Dr. Lloyd Hall dedicated his life to as a public servant. He served on the Chicago Executive Committee of the NAACP and the Board of Directors of the Chicago Urban League. Hall served on the Illinois State Food Commission and the Institute of Food Technologists and on the Board of Trustees for the Chicago Planetarium Society along with being a Science and Education Advisor for the Adler Planetarium. In 1962, Hall was appointed American Food for Peace Council by President John Kennedy to oversee the donation of food to developing nations.

Dr. Hall received honorary degrees from Howard University, Tuskegee, and Virginia State University. Hall passed away on January 2, 1971, at the age of 77.

In 2004, Dr. Hall was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Dr. Lloyd A. Hall revolutionized the science of food preservation that is still being used today.

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