Emil M. Mrak, 85; Nutritionist and Former UC Davis Chancellor


Emil M. Mrak, an internationally known nutritionist and food technologist who was chancellor of the University of California, Davis, from 1959 to 1969, has died.

A campus spokesman said Mrak suffered an apparent heart attack at Sacramento Metropolitan Airport Thursday night as he and his wife were returning from visiting their son in Arkansas. He was pronounced dead at University Medical Center in Sacramento. He was 85.

Mrak, who was chairman of the pesticide advisory committee for the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare and a consumer affairs commissioner for New York City, was noted for his work on the preservation of foods and was one of the world’s authorities on the biology of yeast.


He was an outspoken foe of so-called organic foods, maintaining that the word organic is meaningless and that naturally grown fruits and vegetables are often deprived of natural vitamins in their processing.

Born in San Francisco in 1901 and raised on a prune ranch in the Santa Clara Valley, Mrak earned his bachelor of science, master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.

He became an instructor of food technology at Berkeley in 1937 and full professor in 1948, when he became chairman of a department of food science and technology. The department was moved in 1951 to Davis.

Chancellor of the Davis campus from July 1, 1959, to June 30, 1969, Mrak was later given the title of professor emeritus of food technology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and food technologist emeritus in the Agricultural Experiment Station.

Mrak Hall, the Davis campus administration building, is named for him.