Lloyd Augustus Hall

Lloyd Augustus Hall Revolutionized the Meatpacking Industry

An industrial food chemist, Lloyd Augustus Hall revolutionized the meatpacking industry with his development of curing salts for the processing and reserving of meats. He developed a technique of "flash-driving" (evaporating) and a technique of sterilization with ethylene oxide which is still used by medical professionals today.

Earlier Years

Lloyd Augustus Hall was born in Elgin, Illinois, on June 20, 1894.

 Hall's grandmother came to Illinois via the Underground Railroad when she was 16. Hall's grandfather came to Chicago in 1837 and was one of the founders of the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church. In 1841, he was the church's first pastor. Hall’s parents, Augustus and Isabel, both graduated high school. Lloyd was born in Elgin but his family moved to Aurora, Illinois​, which is where he was raised. He graduated in 1912 from East Side High School in Aurora.

After graduation, he studied  pharmaceutical chemistry at Northwestern University, earning a bachelor of science degree, followed by a master's degree from the University of Chicago. At Northwestern, Hall met Carroll L. Griffith, who with his father, Enoch L. Griffith, founded Griffith Laboratories​. The Griffiths later hired Hall as their chief chemist.

After finishing college, Hall was hired by the Western Electric Company after a phone interview.

But the company refused to hire Hall when they learned he was black. Hall then began working as a chemist for the Department of Health in Chicago followed by a job as chief chemist with the John Morrell Company.

During World War I, Hall served with the United States Ordnance Department where he was promoted to Chief Inspector of Powder and Explosives.

Following the war, Hall married Myrrhene Newsome and they moved to Chicago where he worked for the Boyer Chemical Laboratory, again as a chief chemist. Hall then became president and chemical director for Chemical Products Corporation's consulting laboratory. In 1925, Hall took a position with Griffith Laboratories where he remained for 34 years.

Inventions

Hall invented new ways to preserve food. In 1925, at Griffith Laboratories, Hall invented his processes for preserving meat using sodium chloride and nitrate and nitrite crystals.  This process was known as flash-drying.

Hall also pioneered the use of antioxidants. Fats and oils spoil when exposed to oxygen in the air. Hall used lecithin, propyl gallate, and ascorbyl ​palmite as antioxidants, and invented a process to prepare the antioxidants for food preservation. He invented a process to sterilized spices using ​ethylenoxide gas, an insecticide. Today, the use of preservatives has been reexamined. Preservatives have been linked to many health issues.

Retirement

After retiring from Griffith Laboratories in 1959, Hall consulted for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. From 1962 to 1964, he was on the American Food for Peace Council.

He died in 1971 in Pasadena, California. He was awarded several honors during his lifetime, including honorary degrees from Virginia State University, Howard University​ and the Tuskegee Institute, and in 2004 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame​.