News at the University of New Brunswick

UNBer earns prestigious award for all-natural food preservative

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on May 28, 2019

Category: myUNB , UNB Fredericton

Dr. Tanzina Huq, a former Mitacs postdoctoral research fellow in the department of chemical engineering at the University of New Brunswick, will be presented the Mitacs Outstanding Entrepreneur Award on May 28 at a ceremony in Halifax.

With the initial goal of reducing food waste, Dr. Huq, co-founder and chief technology officer of Fredericton-based start-up Chinova Bioworks, developed a first-of-its-kind all natural, clean label preservative that ensures food safety and a longer shelf life without the health risks associated with artificial preservatives.

Dr. Huq’s product, Chiber, is based on a fibre extracted from white button mushrooms that works as a natural antimicrobial, providing health benefits to consumers while keeping foods and beverages fresh, safe and nutritious. It protects against bacteria, yeast, mold and pathogens. The product was first tested on juices, sparkling water and iced teas, and is now being applied to dairy products and salad dressings.

“In light of recent efforts by Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration to curb the use of artificial preservatives like sodium benzoate and sodium sorbate – which have been linked to health risks – food and beverage companies are seeking natural alternatives,” Dr. Huq explained. “Our product offers an affordable, effective and flexible solution.”

Chinova Bioworks recently completed its first pilot-scale production and is gearing up for a product launch in the U.S. in October. The company plans to extend Chiber to cosmetic applications by 2022.

Dr. Huq is one of five winners of the Entrepreneur Award, presented by Mitacs, who are being recognized for their efforts to turn their research into an innovative business that impacts the lives of Canadians.

Media contact: Paisley Sibbald