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Lloyd A. Hall: The African-American Chemist Behind The Many Food Preservatives Used today

Lloyd<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Augustus<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Hall Food ChemistPhoto credit National Inventors Hall of Fame

 

Before he pioneered his research on food preservation, the standard method of keeping food without it spoiling was to use salt. However, this posed a significant difficulty to the taste of food because it invariably ended up with a bitter taste.

The script on how to preserve food altered in 1932, when African-American food chemist Lloyd Augustus Hall devised many methods for people to preserve their food without it spoiling and while keeping the taste intact. Prior to his retirement, he held over 100 patents in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

He utilized a combination of salt and small crystals of sodium nitrate and nitrite to keep the nitrogen that causes food to spoil at bay. According to the ACS, this method of preservation is still utilized in the storage of meats today.

He did not come up with the lone invention. He also investigated how some spices exposed food to bacteria, causing it to decay in a matter of hours.

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Hall was born in 1894 in Elgin, Illinois to a Baptist minister. According to the African American Registry, his grandfather was one of the first Black preachers ordained at the church where his father was a minister. He completed his secondary school in Aurora, Illinois. He went on to study at Northwestern University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1914. He got his Master of Science from the same college two years later, and his Doctor of Science from Virginia State College in 1944.

His first work, which lasted four years, was at the City of Chicago’s Department of Health Laboratories, where he started as a junior sanitary chemist and eventually ascended to a senior position. From 1919 to 1921, he was also the principal chemist at John Morrell and Company in Ottumwa, Iowa.

From 1921 until 1924, he was President of the Chemical Products Corporation in Chicago. That was not the end of it. From 1925 to 1929, Hall worked as a consultant at Griffith’s Laboratories before being appointed to technical director at the same institution from 1929 to 1946.

From 1946 until 1959, Hall worked for the United States government as a researcher and chief inspector of high explosives during World War I. During World War II, he was called upon again as a consultant in the Quartermaster Corps of the United States Army’s sustenance development and research laboratories.

When he retired, he was offered a position as a consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations. Hall is responsible for the various methods of treating meat with food seasonings, bakery products, protein hydrolysates, antioxidants, and curing agents to improve the flavor and freshness of food.

He is in charge of modern techniques of sterilizing cereals, spices, and other food ingredients, as well as pharmaceutical products. He developed the antioxidant that prevents fatty and oily foods from deteriorating when they contact with oxygen. He was the first food chemist to discover that compounds like propyl, gallate, lecithin, and ascorbyl palmitate could be used to keep food fresh.

Griffith Laboratories eventually became one of the major manufacturers of protein hydrolysates to aid with meat preservation.

Hall has been recognized as one of the top food chemists in the United States for his contributions to the body of knowledge in food preservation. On January 2, 1971, he died.

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Written by How Africa News

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