Chinova Bioworks debuts mushroom-derived, clean label preservative for dairy and dairy alternative products

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Manuta
©GettyImages / Manuta

Related tags preservatives mushrooms Supplyside west startups

Canadian startup Chinova Bioworks is introducing two versions of its new ingredient CHIBER – a clean label “antimicrobial shelf-life extender” made from chitosan, a natural biopolymer extracted from mushrooms – for dairy and non-dairy applications at the SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas this week.

The two new chitosan preservative products – one specifically for dairy applications and one for plant-based dairy alternatives –  were developed to target the most common spoilage microorganisms (yeast, bacteria, and mold) in each category.

"The most common spoilage microorganisms are yeast and mold species like Penicillium, aspergillus and saccharomyces to name a few. These microorganisms are hard to control and cause a lot of spoilage issues and food waste,"​ Dhayagude told FoodNavigator-USA.

CHIBER can be used in product applications across categories including dairy cottage cheese, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, sour cream as well was almond, cashew, coconut, and other plant-based alternatives, according to the company.

“Clients in these categories have been searching for a natural, clean-label alternative to the current preservatives on the market but have not been able to find a good solution,”​ said Natasha Dhayagude, CEO of Chinova Bioworks​.

Increased scrutiny of preservatives

According to a 2019 online survey of 1,000 US adults by Wakefield Research for Label Insight, 51% said they were swayed by product claims of "no preservatives​", particularly older generations. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of baby boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to Gen X (46%) and millennials (41%).

Label Insight also found that ‘easy-to-read, plain English’ ingredients are the clearest indicators for consumers that a brand or manufacturer is being transparent, according to its Transparency Imperative 2018​. ​The report also showed that 93% of consumers continue to say it’s important for brands and manufacturers to provide detailed information about what is in food and how it’s made. This was a substantial increase from 74% of consumers in 2018 and 39% in 2016.

Chinova Bioworks' CHIBER fits all these needs for consumers due to its clear, plant-based source: white button mushrooms.

"Everybody knows mushrooms, it’s easily understood, it’s very transparent for consumers,"​​ Dhayagude previously told FoodNavigator-USA​.

Using chitosan extracted from mushrooms also allows food and beverage manufacturers to meet dietary restriction certifications including Halal, Kosher, and vegan.

In its marketing and product descriptions, Dhayagude added that the company prefers to use the term "shelf-life extender"​ because of CHIBER's highly-effective antimicrobial properties and due to negative consumer associations with the word "preservative."

Going toe-to-toe with synthetic preservatives

Aware of consumers’ increased scrutiny of ingredient labels and shunning of synthetic ingredients, food manufacturers have struggled with replacing these ingredients with natural alternatives which don’t provide nearly as long of a shelf life and can have a negative impact on taste, noted Dhayagude.

"What we found from those producers is that making that shift from artificial to natural was a huge challenge. Producers had to ensure food safety, shelf life, and maintain an overall quality of the product, but natural preservatives currently in the marketplace were just not able to deliver,"​​ Dhayagude said.

Chitosan works well with a wide range of products because it can function across a wide pH range, has broad spectrum coverage (Gram positive, Gram Negative bacteria, yeast, and mold), and heat/freeze stability. 

"Chiber is a one for one replacement for the current preservatives in the market,"​ Dhayagude told us.

CHIBER is able replace synthetic preservatives such as sodium benzoate and sorbate found in many products including chilled dairy items such as yogurt and coffee creamers, claims Chinova.

Weeks-long shelf-life extension

The company’s extraction technology of chitosan offers broad-spectrum protection against all types of microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, and mold) and has no sensory impact on the finished product while extending shelf-life.

“With Chinova’s CHIBER mushroom extract preservative we are not only giving clients and consumers a cleaner label we are also extremely effective against yeast and mold microorganisms, and in certain products tested we can extend the shelf-life weeks beyond what was ever possible before,”​ Dhayagude said.

"Shelf-life extension depends on the product type. For example in plant-based dairy alternatives we are able to get an additional two week shelf life extension beyond what producers could ever get before,"​ added Dhayagude. 

In some applications, CHIBER can achieve an even longer shelf life than certain synthetic preservatives can achieve. 

Chinova is officially launching both these products at SupplySide West in Las Vegas this week at booth #2711.


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