2018 - 2023

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THEME: Food Safety


Development of mushroom chitosan as a natural preservative ingredient for use in Canadian clean label processed food and beverages


Chinova Bioworks, Fredericton NB


David Brown, Chinova Bioworks

Food and beverage processors are looking for ingredients to meet the growing demand for clean label  foods and products with healthier, more natural ingredients but without compromising product safety or quality.

Chinova Bioworks has invented a natural shelf-life extender called Chiber™ for processed food and beverage products using chitosan, a dietary fibre extracted from white button mushrooms.


“People want healthy, but also convenient food. One of the ingredients consumers have the biggest issue with are chemical preservatives, but in order for processed foods to be convenient to us, they need to have a suitable shelf life and not be full of spoilage bacteria, yeast or mold,” says Chinova Bioworks co-founder David Brown. “Our ingredient Chiber  is a healthy, natural fiber that can protect processed foods from spoilage due to microorganisms like mold.”

With support from CFIN, Chinova Bioworks completed a major study into the overall mechanisms of action of the fibre and the highly customized ingredient that could achieve similar results to the traditional chemical preservatives that food companies are trying to replace. Real food models were used to gain an understanding of how Chiber ingredient could work in real processed foods on the market in Canada today.


The company was able to determine the optimal amounts of white button mushroom extract needed to achieve a shelf life comparable to that of synthetic preservatives. They also established how to apply the ingredient in a cost-effective way so that it is an affordable solution for food and beverage processors.

“This project allowed for the development of a final market-ready product that can be used to provide a healthy and natural replacement to synthetic preservatives being used in Canada,” says Brown. “It has given us the data and evidence we need to work with potential clients, and at the same time, make the required regulatory filings in Canada and the United States.”

Chinova’s innovation also creates new value for mushroom growers. Traditionally, the mushroom cap is old whereas the stem is sent to compost or landfill. That’s the material Chinova uses as feedstock for Chiber™, keeping it out of landfill and adding a new income source for farmers. The company’s initial client targets are Canadian juice, dairy and plant-based dairy alternative producers. They are also working on versions of their ingredient for the baked goods and sauce segments of the food industry.



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What does this project mean to Canada’s

food processing industry?

A natural antimicrobial allows food processors to achieve clean label requirements, extend the shelf life of their products and increase their ability to sell into global markets.

Why is this innovation important?


FOOD SAFETY: Food and beverage processors can lengthen product shelf-life without compromising food quality or safety. 

HEALTH: Consumers are seeking healthy, natural alternatives to chemical ingredients, including synthetic preservatives.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT: Clean labels can open new market opportunities for food and beverage processors, including emerging markets in craft beverages. They are also important to plant-based and plant-centric product formulations.

FOOD WASTE AND WEALTH CREATION: Using a waste stream product as the feedstock for this natural ingredient creates immediate reduction in volumes going to landfill, as well as converting waste management expenses to new revenue streams for farmers.

About Chinova Bioworks

Chinova Bioworks is a Canadian company that addresses the growing consumer demand for healthy,  natural, clean-label ingredients by providing food and beverage producers with a solution that ensures food safety, shelf life, and product quality. The company has developed an innovative antimicrobial ingredient, Chiber™, that is based on a fiber called chitosan that is extracted from white button mushrooms. www.chinovabioworks.com

About the project team

David Brown is cofounder  and Chief Operating Officer of Chinova Bioworks. He’s a recipient of the 2017 Governor General's Innovation Award and a graduate of the University of Alberta.