BioLab Spring 2022

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VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022 BioLABmag.com
Tracking deadly pathogens at Canada's National Microbiology Lab
NOTE Amassing a reference library of multicellular life THE SENTINELS MONITORING EARTH'S VITAL SIGNS
LAB PROFILE
APPLICATION
15 TRACKING THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST PATHOGENS at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory BIOLABMAG.COM 3 inside standard SUZUKI MATTERS 6 CANADIAN NEWS 7 WORLDWIDE NEWS 8 LABWARE 25 MOMENT IN TIME 46 lab profile FEATURE THE TRACKERS Canadian researchers keep tabs on the pulse of the planet NEWSMAKER EYES IN THE SKY Kathryn McWilliams becomes the first Canadian awarded with an honorary fellowship from the UK’s RAS COMPANY PROFILE AG-WEST BIO A catalyst and connector for Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry APPLICATION NOTE AMASSING A REFERENCE LIBRARY OF MULTICELLULAR LIFE to help protect the planet 9 13 20 22 28 38 42 28 30 44 FEATURES An important platform for food innovation and technology Next generation digital detectives on the search for new ways to keep food safe How consumer demand for plant based proteins is changing the fish industry An ode to Canadian beans GUEST EDITORIAL NEWS BITES FOODWARE 32 Front cover photo: courtesy of BIOSCAN Canada

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SUCCESS IS IN THE ‘BAG’ WHEN BUSINESS, ACADEMIA AND GOVERNMENT COLLABORATE

Despite ongoing government investments in Canadian research and science, amounting to a whopping $10 billion since 2016 - the nation is still lagging behind in the global race for innovation. But there may be hope on the horizon.

Canada's business expenditures on research and development as a share of GDP are well below the average of most European countries and have continued to fall since 2001.

Canadians cannot continue to rely solely on government funding to advance our scientific status on the world stage. As we emerge from the pandemic, Canada stands at a defining moment. To spur innovation we need a comprehensive approach that enables investment in discoveries that make our lives better. And the burden cannot simply fall to the government.

That’s where Canada’s five superclusters can show the way. Over 7,000 organizations are currently supported by these business, academic and government partnerships, fuelling innovation in digital technology, protein industries, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and ocean health. Since launching four years ago, over 1,755 collaborative partnerships have delivered 1,200 new products and processes. There are currently more than 400 projects underway, the majority led by small and medium-sized companies. These impressive numbers have attracted attention in Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Innovation like this begins with the creativity and ingenuity of people dedicated to searching for new solutions. It’s why Canadian Food Business, the sister publication of BioLab Business, partnered with the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST). Founded in 1951, CIFST is the national association for food and beverage sector professionals - scientists and technologists in industry, government and academia who are advancing food science innovation.

They’ll be showcasing an impressive array of current research at their 55th National Conference June 1 to 3, 2022. Held at Guelph University, the event features emerging ingredients, nutrition and health, food processing, consumer attitudes, global food security, food safety, sustainable food systems and food policy. We’ll be sharing highlights in the fall issue of Canadian Food Business. Together with CIFST, we hope to advance knowledge and continue building Canadian bench strength in research and innovation.

When companies of all sizes, academic institutions and not-for-profits come together, they generate bold new ideas, and drive new discoveries. From modest partnerships like ours with CIFST to those of the superclusters, the opportunities for generating growth and prosperity are endless. You might say that success is in the bag (business, academic, government) for Canada when we collaborate.

Publisher of BioLab Business Magazine

Printed in Canada

EDITOR’S NOTE 4 BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE
2022

CONSERVATIONISTS HELPS SCIENTISTS TRACK POTENTIAL DISEASES

With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more available, we can breathe a small sigh of relief. But we can’t get complacent. This pandemic isn’t over. And if we’re not careful, others could be on the horizon.

A coalition of health and conservation organizations is trying to prevent that. The Preventing Pandemics at the Source coalition points to evidence that “increasing rates of deforestation and land-use change due to population growth and urbanization — coupled with growing globalization and excess production driven by consumerism” are increasing our vulnerability to zoonotic diseases, which spread from other animals to people.

They also note that “large-scale commercial trade in live wild animals, often traveling long distances to crowded food markets, increases the risk of transmission of pathogens to people from those animals.”

This information isn’t new. Most novel pathogens to which we haven’t developed immunity are zoonotic, including Ebola, Zika, West Nile virus, SARS, HIV and others. We’ve long known about the possibility of something like COVID-19. We should have been better prepared for it or able to prevent it.

We must learn from the current crisis to prevent worse emergencies and prepare for new diseases. The next virus could be deadlier than COVID-19 (as some variants already are). As the coalition points out, outbreaks are increasing and spreading faster in our interconnected world.

“Because of our broken relationship with nature, these events are already happening more frequently: more than 335 emerging infectious disease outbreaks were reported worldwide from 1940 to 2004 — over 50 per decade,” the coalition reports.

In identifying parts of the world where outbreaks are likely to start, the coalition is mapping out solutions that “will require dialogue and coordinated action between sectors — particularly health and environment, but also agriculture, trade, food and nutrition, and others.”

Its proposed “three-pronged strategy” would include a scientific task force and high-level panel on prevention at the source, a global action fund for pandemic prevention, and global and local public awareness campaigns.

The task force — to be convened by two coalition members, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment, along with scientists worldwide — will “examine what we know and what we must learn to prevent the next global pandemic.” It will inform a panel that includes “highlevel representatives from governments” to “develop and recommend policies to prevent spillover, and, critically, advocate for adoption of these policies globally and in highrisk countries.”

The coalition also proposes a global action fund to help co-ordinate knowledge, dialogue, and action and “support a pipeline of existing prevention solutions to scale up, while also financing the development of new solutions (cuttingedge behavior change approaches, diagnostic platforms, incentives programs, technologies, and data solutions).”

Finally, it proposes global and local public awareness campaigns to prioritize prevention and health-system preparedness.

To prevent pandemics, we must recognize our interconnectedness with nature and protect natural systems that make the planet habitable for humans. Doing so will also help with the climate emergency.

As Amy Vittor from the University of Florida’s division of infectious diseases and global medicine told a British newspaper, The Guardian, “Forests — and tropical forests in particular — harbour complex networks of microbes and their wildlife hosts. Degrading these landscapes carries the potential of unleashing these microbes upon our domesticated animals and ourselves. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of forests serves to not only protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change, but also to contain these complex and potentially dangerous pathogen networks.”

Reducing wildlife trade and reforming livestock practices are also crucial. It requires recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples worldwide and incorporating knowledge they’ve gained from living in place for millennia.

These measures are necessary regardless of cost, but a recent study found they’re also sound investments. Global spending on COVID-19 has already exceeded US$20 trillion, but spending just $27 billion a year over 10 years could substantially reduce the risks of a similar pandemic.

As with the coalition’s recommendations, the study outlines the benefits of early disease detection and control, monitoring wildlife trade and ending China’s wild meat trade, reducing disease spillover from livestock, and protecting tropical forests in critical regions.

Our major crises — pandemics, climate disruption and biodiversity loss — all have roots in our lack of recognition of our place in nature. We can and must do better.

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Octopuses throw things at those that annoy them, study shows

An international team of scientists from Australia, Canada and the US, using an underwater camera trap, has evidence that suggests octopuses, especially females, will throw things around – even at each other if annoyed. In 2015, wild octopuses at an Australian site were observed using their tentacles to propel shells, silt, and algae when tidying their den, discarding the remains of a meal, or for social reasons like fighting or mating. In the study, females were the source of 66% of all throws.

A NEW LENS ON NOVEL CANCER THERAPIES WITH

LIVE‑CELL IMAGING

Most cancer cases arise from accumulated damage to our genetic material, a phenomenon that happens more than 10,000 times a day and can cause mutations to our DNA that lead to uncontrolled cell growth. These injuries would be catastrophic if cells were unable to repair them, but the body’s delicate machinery detects and repairs the genetic damage to prevent DNA mutations and diseases, such as cancer. Despite four decades of intensive research, that critical process remains only partially characterized.

In a new study, Dr. Graham Dellaire of Dalhousie’s departments of Pathology and Biochemistry/Molecular Biology collaborated with Dr. Raul Mostoslavsky at the Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues at the National Cancer Research Center in Spain to use machine learning and analyze thousands of images to visualise this DNA repair machinery with a degree of detail and precision never achieved before.

This technique, using multi-colour fluorescence microscopy with a custom-built, state-of-the-art spinning disk microscope, has led to the discovery of several new proteins involved in DNA repair.

The results shed light on DNA repair but also provide new technologies to manipulate the process, priming the pump for novel discoveries that will affect how cancer is treated.

WEST COAST

SCIENTISTS

EXPRESS CONCERN OVER SALMON HABITAT

A group of 12 leading scientists are asking the Canadian government to reject the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's proposed new cargo terminal, the Robert Banks Terminal 2, a project they say will adversely affect Fraser Chinook salmon and Southern Resident killer whales that rely on the Fraser River Estuary. "We evaluated the threats facing 102 species of conservation concern in the Fraser River Estuary and found that projects that further reduce the habitat for these at-risk species will only further their decline,” said Tara Martin, professor with the Forest and Conservation Science Department at the University of British Columbia. “Our research shows that species recovery requires implementing cost-effective conservation-based science that is supported by a management plan and co-governance."

New investment in photonics and semiconductors

Ottawa recently announced it will be investing $240 million to build Canadian bench strength in photonics and semiconductors. The Semiconductor Challenge Callout, a fund of $150 million, will go to the development and supply of semiconductors, while $90 million has been earmarked for the National Research Council of Canada’s Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre. In response to the chip shortage that has affected the supply chain since late 2020, the government is monitoring signs of strain in critical supply chains and infrastructure, and is working with the United States and global partners to enhance supply chain security.

PROGRAM OPENS DOORS FOR SKILLED NEWCOMERS TO ENTER THE

CANADIAN BIO ECONOMY

BioTalent Canada recently introduced a new program, Skilled Newcomer Internships for the Bio-economy, that provides funds for employers to integrate skilled newcomers and internationally educated professionals into the Canadian bio-economy. The $2.9-million project helps bio-economy employers access skilled individuals they might not have otherwise considered for roles. Funded in part by the Canadian government, the program covers 75% of a participant’s salary to a maximum of $20,000 for a three- to nine-month job placement. The program runs through October 2023 and aims to place more than 165 newcomers and professionals with small- and medium-sized enterprises across Canada. For more information, visit biotalent.ca/skillednewcomers

CANADIAN NEWS BIOLABMAG.COM 7

SCIENTISTS CREATE A GLOBAL REPOSITORY FOR CELL ENGINEERING

A cloud-based repository that creates a digital fingerprint of engineered microorganisms has been successfully trialed by an international team led by Newcastle University. CellRepo, a species and strain database that uses cell barcodes to monitor and track engineered organisms, keeps track of and organizes the digital data produced during cell engineering. It also molecularly links that data to the associated living samples.

Available globally, this resource supports international collaboration and has significant safety advantages, such as limiting the impact of deliberately or accidentally released genetically modified microorganisms by enabling faster tracing of an organism’s lab of origin and design details.

CellRepo is built on version control, a concept from software engineering that records and tracks changes to software code. The scientists believe that version control for cell engineering will make engineering biology more open, reproducible, easier to trace and share, and more trustworthy.

Additional benefits of this community resource include traceability, providing the exact documentation for a strain and properly crediting laboratory work. The database also puts responsibility in focus by making it easier to track and assign ownership.

With access to a global database, researchers will be able to reproduce results and collaborate more easily. The scientists also say the repository will improve transparency and reduce costs associated with data and source code losses.

Researchers uncover gene that doubles risk of death from COVID-19

Scientists at Oxford University have identified the gene responsible for doubling the risk of respiratory failure from COVID 19. Sixty percent of people with South Asian ancestry carry the high-risk genetic signal, partly explaining the excess deaths seen in some communities and the impact of COVID 19 on the Indian subcontinent. The researchers found that the higher risk version of the gene probably prevents the cells lining airways and the lungs from responding to the virus properly. But importantly, it doesn’t affect the immune system, so the researchers expect people carrying this version of the gene to respond normally to vaccines.

Gigantic French tokamak reactor on hold over safety concerns

France’s nuclear regulator has ordered ITER, an international fusion energy project, to hold off on assembling its gigantic reactor until officials address safety concerns. Plans for welding together the 11-metre-tall steel sections that make up the doughnut-shaped reactor called a tokamak were put on hold in January by France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) over concerns about neutron radiation, slight distortions in the steel sections, and loads on the concrete slab holding up the reactor. ITER staff say they intend to satisfy ASN by April so that they can begin to weld the reactor vessel by July.

REBALANCING EARTH’S METABOLISM WITH FAST GROWING TREES

To fight climate change, Living Carbon, a California biotech firm is working to develop fast-growing trees that can rapidly soak up carbon dioxide. It recently announced it had developed a genetically enhanced poplar which grew more than 1.5 times faster than unmodified ones in lab trials. “It’s a great first step,” says Sophie Young, a plant biologist at Lancaster University. But she adds there’s a big caveat: “The trees grew in a carefully controlled greenhouse as opposed to the outdoors.”

WORLDWIDE NEWS 8 BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022
California biotech firm is working to develop fast-growing trees that can rapidly soak up carbon dioxide.

The Trackers: Keeping tabs on Canada's wildlife

Across Canada, teams of scientists stand as sentinels, tracking and watching wildlife on the horizon of climate change. Relying on an arsenal of technologies including camera traps, drones, satellites, and tiny transmitters, they’re keeping their fingers on the pulse of animal behaviours, gathering a profusion of data to help preserve threatened animal populations, improve wildlife and habitat management, and monitor behaviour that signals potentially catastrophic changes to the environment.

BIOLABMAG.COM 9 FEATURE STORY

At the University of British Columbia, there’s a study that offers new evidence that protected natural areas promote mammal diversity. Researchers at UBC’s Faculty of Forestry analyzed data from a global data set drawing from 8,671 camera trap stations spanning four continents, the largest number of wildlife cameras ever analyzed in a single study.

They found more mammal diversity in survey areas where habitat had a protected designation compared to forests and other wilderness areas that lacked that designation. This was true even when these protected areas experienced human disturbances, such as recreational use and logging.

“As international discussions continue on new global targets for expanding protected areas, it’s important to be able to measure the benefits of the protections that do currently exist,” said Cole Burton, the study’s senior author and a conservation biologist who researches mammal populations

and human-wildlife coexistence. “Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the world is currently discussing new targets for how much of the Earth’s surface should be covered by parks. We need to have better information to inform these policy discussions.”

Watching from above, drones help UBC researchers study killer whales

Meanwhile, along Canada’s West Coast, drones are being used by researchers at UBC’s Hakai Institute in the northern and southern waters of Vancouver Island, where they gathered stunning new aerial and underwater footage of Northern and Southern Resident killer whales that offers a new glimpse into the underwater lives of these whales. The project is looking into whether endangered southern resident killer whales are getting enough of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon, to meet their nutritional needs. The researchers used aerial drones and underwater cameras with biologgers to study their feeding behaviour, and hydrophones to measure prey availability.

Lead investigator Andrew Trites from UBC’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, explains: “Looking at the drone footage we collected on our research voyage last year, one of the things that struck us was the extent to which resident

BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022
FEATURE STORY 10
“In one instance, we got to see a northern resident whale calf getting its belly rubbed by its mother’s pectoral fin as they swam side by side.”

killer whales touched each other. This year, we were able see this touching from their perspective. In one instance, we got to see a northern resident whale calf getting its belly rubbed by its mother’s pectoral fin as they swam side by side. It was something nobody could see if they were watching killer whales from a boat.”

Migratory patterns of marine life

Migratory patterns among ocean animals have captured the attention of seafarers long before marine biology became a thing. The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, is contributing to a deeper understanding of ocean life through the use of autonomous marine vehicles and fixed-station telemetry, and oceanographic equipment like acoustic tracking. OTN has deployed more than 2,000 Canadian-made acoustic receivers and monitors that send signals to floating buoys or fixed locations in the ocean around the world to track the movements of 130 commercially, ecologically and culturally valuable aquatic species.

These technologies enable scientists to see the world through the eyes of an animal. Last fall, a team from UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit spent a month at sea, filming both Northern and Southern resident killer whales, not only

from above with drones, but also from below, by placing suction-cup camera tags onto the whales’ bodies. These devices allowed the crew to record what the whales see and hear and the sounds they make, as well as their three-dimensional movements, diving depths and feeding behaviours.

“With this technology we’re able to combine all the different data streams to get a complete picture of what is going on underwater. We’ve never been able to do that before. It’s quite thrilling,” says Sarah Fortune, a post-doc marine biologist, who designed the study.

Investing in new tech to monitor the elusive Canada lynx

At the Integrative Wildlife Conservation lab at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., scientists are keeping close tabs on the Canada lynx in the Yukon. Launched in the 1980s, it’s the longest-running study of a vertebrate predator-prey system in Canada, and it recently secured a $149,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for additional tracking devices that will help them get a deeper look at how the animals respond to drastic changes in their environment.

The new state-of-the-art instruments attached to the lynx include satellite GPS radio-collars for tracking movement

BIOLABMAG.COM 11 FEATURE STORY

and habitat selection, accelerometers for identifying activity patterns, and acoustic recorders for tracking interactions with both prey and other predators. The wildcats are harvested for their fur and while their populations are secure in central Canada, more southerly populations are of conservation concern.

Butterflies and songbirds

At the University of Guelph, since 2008 Ryan Norris’s lab has been working on migration patterns and population dynamics of monarch butterflies as well as many other migratory animals.

The team primarily uses stable isotopes in wing chitin to estimate the natal origin of individuals captured throughout the range and over multiple seasons, explains Norris. Chitlin from monarch butterfly wings has been used to analyze strontium in the wing. It’s an indicator for migration patterns when correlated with local soils and vegetation. Similar to other organisms, nitrogen and carbon isotopes can also be used to reconstruct the animal’s diet.

The researchers aim to describe broad-scale connectivity patterns across the eastern breeding range and then integrate this information into year-round predictive population models to understand what limits and regulates migratory monarch butterflies.

Norris’s team is also tracking songbirds. Advancements in nanotechnology have revolutionized the study of bird migration, offering smaller tracking devices like the light level geolocators that are replacing heavier satellite telemetry tags and bird banding. It has also enabled the Norris lab to shed light on how the tiny blackpoll warbler, one of Canada’s fastest declining songbirds, makes its way to Venezuela in the winter, on a 10,000-kilometre migratory path.

Marine biologists like Timothy Frasier of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax have teamed with American researchers at Boston’s New England Aquarium to apply genomics as they study the world’s most endangered large whale, the North Atlantic right whale. They are using genomic data to improve conservation strategies for this endangered species, of which there are fewer than 400 individuals remaining.

Frasier explains, “Although inbreeding has been an important topic in population biology for over a century, our understanding of its impact in the wild, and in endangered species in particular, is still in its infancy due to

a lack of good case studies. This study, where we have the ability to combine 40 years of field data with genomic data for such a high percentage of individuals, will allow us to not only quantify the impacts of inbreeding on the recovery potential of this species, but will also greatly improve our understanding of the impacts of inbreeding on wildlife populations and the subsequent implications for conservation.”

From genetics to game changing satellite technologies like Canada’s RADARSAT, a satellite network that monitors oceans, ice and Earth’s ecosystems, scientists across the country are harnessing the power of technology to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us and are standing on guard to protect life on the planet.

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Genomics and tracking data deepen our understanding of the endangered right whale
FEATURE STORY 12

SASKATCHEWAN SCIENTIST BECOMES

FIRST CANADIAN TO WIN FELLOWSHIP

IN UK’S ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

Last fall, the sun spewed a violent mass of fast-moving plasma into space that came crashing into the planet’s magnetosphere, igniting the sky with shimmering coils of dramatic colour – a light show we know as the Aurora Borealis. And as lovely as the sight was, the event could have been far worse. In 1989, a similar geomagnetic storm caused the HydroQuebec power grid to fail, leaving millions in the province without power for nine hours.

That’s where researchers like Kathryn McWilliams at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) come in. McWilliams is an international expert in the dynamics of field-aligned currents that link the solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere — the bubble that protects the Earth from direct impact by the solar wind. She’ll tell you that our technologically driven world is vulnerable to what happens in near-Earth space environments, so it’s important to keep tabs on what’s happening above and in the atmosphere.

She’s also the director of the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) Canada, the Canadian arm of an international project that uses high-frequency radars in the northern and southern hemispheres to study Earth’s upper atmosphere. She recently made headlines as the first Canadian to have been awarded an honorary fellowship from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) of the United Kingdom.

NEWSMAKER

The RAS awards honorary fellowships to scientists living outside the U.K. who are eminent in the fields of astronomy or geophysics. McWilliams said she feels “humbled and honoured” to receive the award.

In its announcement on Jan. 14, 2022, the RAS acknowledged McWilliams as an international expert in the dynamics of fieldaligned currents that link the solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere.

“We are trying to understand all the processes involved in creating the aurora. Like the weather maps that we see in the news, SuperDARN provides a vast scan every minute of the electrical voltage in the atmosphere not too far below the altitude of the International Space Station’s orbit,” said McWilliams, for whom the RAS recognition was both humbling and an honour.

SuperDARN is on a mission to study plasma near Earth as well as the Sun-Earth space system. The radar network studies how plasma interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere and geospace environment, as well as its effects on planetary infrastructure in the fields of communications, energy, and transportation.

As the head of SuperDARN Canada, McWilliams has led the development of a new radar system called Borealis that improves the capability and flexibility of the project’s radar stations. The new radars are already operating in Canada, while two international SuperDARN partners have begun upgrading to the Borealis system.

SuperDARN Canada is based at USask’s Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies. It’s part of the Canadian Space Agency’s national scientific program, Geospace Observatory Canada, and supports Canadian satellite missions. It’s a critical function, given that satellites represent a significant sector of Canada's economy, worth billions of dollars in revenue for the telecommunications industry alone.

The first tenured female faculty member in the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics at USask, McWilliams has dedicated

most of her career to the SuperDARN project. She first became involved with SuperDARN Canada as a summer student in 1992, when she helped build the first radar site east of Saskatoon.

“I find magnetospheric research very interesting. Understanding how conditions in space connect with conditions in our atmosphere and even down to ground level is a very complex problem to solve,” she explains.

The highly sophisticated radars are synchronized to scan together, allowing researchers to monitor space weather conditions in the Earth’s magnetosphere. Changes in the speed and density of the solar wind, as well as the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field, affect the motion of charged particles in the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere.

Located in Saskatchewan, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario, the Canadian network of radar stations provide coverage of the High Arctic. Canada has the largest land mass under the auroral oval (an oval shaped region around the geomagnetic pole where the aurora most commonly occurs), making the country an ideal place to study interactions between the sun and Earth.

The 35 radars are high-frequency coherent scatter radars, used to study field-aligned ionospheric irregularities. This means that all of the SuperDARN radars send out radio waves, which then bounce off the ionosphere and return to be read by the radar. This is the same process by which you can hear radio in your car, except that these radars bounce off irregularities which signal changes to the density of the ionosphere.

When the radio wave is returned back to the radar, the information it carries can tell how fast the irregularity coming towards or away from the radar. Much like a weather map, when all the radars overlap their data, researchers can build a picture of how the ionosphere is moving as a whole in the polar regions. This data is then used to study the effects of solar wind on Earth's ionosphere, which in turn will lead to developing protection and prediction of space weather.

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NEWSMAKER
Understanding how conditions in space connect with conditions in our atmosphere and even down to ground level is a very complex problem to solve

The past couple of years have been disruptive and chaotic, to say the least. Communities all over the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, changing the way we do things, share information, and communicate with one another.

For scientists working in laboratories that specialize in researching and tracking infectious diseases, it’s been a time that has served to propel our collective knowledge concerning their spread and impact on humans. Leading the way in Canada with respect to the study and diagnosis of many of the world’s most dangerous pathogens is the country’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg. Formed in 1999, the NML is a hub for

The National Microbiology Laboratory: Tracking and researching the world’s deadliest pathogens

research within the country and is responsible for Canadian public health, health emergency preparedness and response, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention. And, according to NML Vice-President Guillaume Poliquin, it does so through the execution of work within a number of key areas.

“Where the Lab really excels in supporting the Canadian public health system is in the diagnostics and reference work that we do around diseases that are difficult to diagnose, rare, or cumbersome,” he says.

“However, we’re also constantly studying some of the more commonly diagnosed diseases as well, like streptococcus pneumonia, in order to

better understand how they change and evolve over time, taking data in from across the country, doing the appropriate laboratory work and then feeding that information to people who make the downstream decisions. Technology continues to advance, and pathogens are ever-changing, driving our need for strong research and development to consistently remain ahead of our work. We provide a leadership role within the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network, collaborating and exchanging knowledge with the country’s public health network. And we also work with global groups, contributing our expertise and know-how with respect to understanding threats on a global scale.”

Supporting the Canadian public health system through the development of new diagnostics and scientific innovation
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UNDERSTANDING COVID-19

Not surprisingly, much of the work that the laboratory is undergoing at the moment is focused on tracking and researching COVID-19, spanning the development of new diagnostics and the evaluation of things like rapid antigen tests to the studying of potential vaccines for the virus. The work that its scientists and technicians do on a daily basis is extraordinary, helping to further our comprehension and awareness of the disease. However, in between the aforementioned efforts there are a handful of initiatives that Poliquin says the NML is especially proud of that has the potential to change the way COVID is tracked, diagnosed, and treated.

“The development of our wastewater initiative, which is focused on the monitoring of wastewater to better understand transmission of COVID at a community level, has been essential in informing and directing public health officials with respect to the presence of the virus and its variants,” he says.

“We’re also very proud of our Northern Remote and Indigenous Initiative, which was driven by a need at the onset of the pandemic to speed up testing in remote areas. Working in partnership with more than 350 remote and First Nations communities across the country, we’ve been able to develop and set up in-community testing systems that allow people to access critical testing in a timely manner, really helping to set up the future for in-community diagnostics to take place for other diseases. And our genomics initiative, which is being used to heighten our national understanding of the variants, is serving a critical role in observing their evolution in real time.”

A RANGE OF PATHOGEN WORK

In addition to these projects, the NML is also heavily invested in the study of a range of viral diseases, such as hepatitis and

other blood-borne pathogens; other respiratory viruses and viral exanthemata, such as measles; bacterial pathogens, including tuberculosis and antibiotic-resistant organisms; and enteric diseases, with a focus on food and water-borne pathogens including E. coli and salmonella. In fact, the NML’s Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health—one of its several sites located across the country—is also home to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, allowing scientists to freely share research and information. In addition, the Lab also conducts extensive research around some of the world’s deadliest pathogens like Ebola, Nipah, and Marburg. As such, it operates the only laboratory in Canada equipped to conduct highcontainment work. Such work harbours risk, admits Poliquin, but is work that he says the NML approaches with extreme seriousness from a health and safety perspective.

“We understand that we’ve been entrusted to be able to leverage the resources and know-how to work with some of the world’s deadliest pathogens, and we take that honour and responsibility incredibly seriously with respect to safety,” he said.

“Safety at the Lab is indexed concerning all sorts of layers of protection. As our work progresses up the four containment risk groups, extra layers of protection and training are required from technicians, ranging from the use of lab coats and hoods and the use of respirators and showers, all the way up to Level Four work which involves a fully enclosed environment in which technicians have their own air hoses that are separate from the air inside of the lab. In addition to the layers of protection and training that’s necessary, we also place a great amount of emphasis around decontamination protocol research, with an entire group that’s responsible for fwurther ensuring the safety of the lab and the continual adherence to and evolution of lab safety protocols.”

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“We understand that we’ve been entrusted to be able to leverage the resources and know-how to work with some of the world’s deadliest pathogens, and we take that honour and responsibility incredibly seriously with respect to safety”

PEOPLE, PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION

Just as important as the work that the NML conducts and the layers of safety that it ensures is the talented and dedicated team of scientists and technicians that make it all happen. It’s a team, explains Poliquin, that has grown exponentially as a result of the pandemic and efforts that have been required in order to properly and accurately track and research the virus.

Prior to the outbreak, the Lab operated with approximately 550 staff. Today, there are more than 800 science professionals working toward the NML’s goals and objectives. Most of the funding that it receives in order to support its efforts comes through the Public Health Agency of Canada. And the Lab also partners with various other government departments on a number of initiatives, including collaborations with the National Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

It’s a collective effort that Poliquin says guides the Lab’s work, adding it’s the only way innovation of this kind of

significance is truly achieved.

“Fundamentally, science is not a solo endeavour, particularly not in this day and age,” he said.

“In light of this, we curate and encourage our staff to collaborate with academia where there are mutual interests. In doing so, our reach and knowledge is naturally extended through these types of partnerships and collaborations. As part of this, international collaboration is also essential to the work that we do and to the work being conducted around the world. We’ve had deployments in which we’ve supported Ebola diagnostics in Congo and the Lassa virus in West Africa. We recognize that pathogens do not respect borders and have seen that in crystal-clear relief with this current pandemic. Our view is that improving diagnostics capacity and knowledge abroad will make us safer at home, allowing us to fulfill our responsibility as an internationally active institution to be a good global citizen.”

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“Fundamentally, science is not a solo endeavour, particularly not in this day and age”

THE POWER OF DATA

It’s a comprehensive portfolio of ongoing work that’s no doubt impressive. The amount of collaboration between team members and with members of other organizations, the assembly and organization of research and information, and its dissemination and analysis, requires an enormous amount of effort, as well as a seemingly perfect confluence of technological innovation and human insights. And facilitating this amalgam is the power of data. Without it, says Poliquin, much of the work that the laboratory conducts would be impossible or, in the least, incredibly consuming from a human capital perspective, adding that it’s in large part responsible for the enabling of the NML’s ability to carry out such incredible production and performance.

“Data complexity continues to increase,” he says. “Our network handles an astounding amount of sheer data on a daily basis which really goes a long way toward supporting the work that we do.

It’s data that’s integral to our ongoing research and diagnostics. As such, we’ve invested significantly in bringing in the knowledge necessary to not only generate and handle that volume of data, but to be able to conduct the analytics as well. And we’ve also put a lot of focus on figuring out how we make all of our data available in a useful and responsible manner, so we not only benefit within the laboratory, but that the benefit of the data is extended through our numerous partnerships with academia and others. The power inherent in the data is increasing every day. And its importance with respect to the work of microbiology scientists all over the world is only going to continue increasing, too.”

COMPREHENDING THE FUTURE

The complexity of the work that the NML is responsible for, combined with its critical nature concerning the continued health and safety of Canadians across the country, is almost overwhelming. And, given the world’s

present circumstances, it might just be some of the most important work being done at the moment. Their efforts have lent toward an improved understanding of the COVID-19 virus and its variants, serving to lessen the severity of the pandemic’s impacts and lightening the tenor of a very dark time in human history.

And, although Poliquin acknowledges these obvious trials and tribulations, he suggests that, looking forward from a scientific research and pathogen diagnostic point of view, the past two years may have served to benefit humankind more than we can currently imagine.

“There haven’t been a lot of silver linings with respect to the pandemic, but there are a few if you look closely enough,” he said.

“There’s been a leapfrog forward in our ability to use tools like genomics and wastewater diagnostics that have been advanced as a result of the pandemic. One day, concerning the devastation that’s been caused by the virus, the storm will run out of rain. But there will be all of that know-how and infrastructure and all of that capacity that’s been built up. There isn’t a shortage of other infectious diseases that we’re going to need to consider and study going forward in order to get ahead of the next threat. So, how do we take the tools and the knowledge that we’ve developed and translate it to the best of our ability in order to keep Canadians even safer moving forward? That’s the question that we keep asking ourselves at NML, and one that continues to drive the entire team and the work we do forward.”

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Ag-West Bio: A catalyst and connector for Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry

Are you building an agri-food business in Saskatchewan, looking for connections, training or support? We can help!

Are you an investor looking for opportunities in the agri-food sector? Learn what Saskatchewan has to offer by contacting Ag-West Bio.

What’s special about Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan is home to one of the most vibrant bioscience innovation clusters in Canada, at the heart of the country’s agricultural biotechnology sector.

Centred at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus and Innovation Place technology park in Saskatoon, the research cluster includes public and private research organizations, such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Light Source, Global Institute for Food Security, Global Institute for Water Security, National Research Council Canada, the Saskatchewan Research Council, the Toxicology Centre, and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO). Off campus, the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre is a key player in the value-added sector.

With the support of this cluster—along with a businessfriendly provincial government that promotes science-based policy—the bioscience and agri-food sectors are growing, with new companies emerging around the province.

Ag-West Bio is a catalyst and connector for the provincial bioeconomy—the province’s bioscience industry association. Located at Innovation Place in Saskatoon, we work with industry stakeholders, innovators, and investors to help bring

research to market, and to assist local agri-food start-ups or companies who want to relocate to this region.

What we do:

• We support businesses

• We catalyze initiatives

• We create connections

• We promote science

Support for businesses

Ag-West Bio helps move research to market and grow agri-food business in the province.

Combining expertise and experience, we provide personalized input and a suite of services tailored to a company’s unique commercialization needs.

We provide a centralized hub for linking private business with market knowledge, advisory input, mentoring, and guidance. And we provide linkages to research and market networks.

We can help start-ups advance their business plans based on opportunity and feasibility, which they can then use to gain investors and strategic partnerships.

WE
Sponsored Content COMPANY PROFILE 20 BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022

Ag-West Bio’s Technology commercialization Fund

There is a crucial stage that start-up companies need to navigate, often called the “Valley of Death,” when they are not yet able to attract venture capital, but they’re beyond start-up investment. This is the stage that Ag-West Bio’s Technology Commercialization Funding is meant for.

Companies that qualify for Ag-West Bio funding have undergone a rigorous due-diligence process, which leads to investor confidence, enabling investee companies to leverage investment dollars.

Ag-West Bio financing is in the form of flexible and patient capital, and targets initiatives where start-ups (or expanding agri-food companies) show that a clear pathway to commercialization has been established, with suitable return on investment and significant benefit to Saskatchewan.

Catalyzing initiatives

Saskatchewan’s bioscience research and development cluster continues to grow. Exciting new technologies are emerging from this cluster, such as digital agriculture, imaging, biologicals, and the growth of the plant protein sector.

By staying up to date with research and commercialization activity and market trends, we recognize opportunities when they arise. Ag-West Bio acts as a catalyst, making connections and encouraging collaboration so the province can benefit from those opportunities.

Recent Ag-West Bio initiatives include the Protein Industries Canada supercluster (PIC) and the Global AgriFood Advancement Partnership. We are currently involved in the development of the Saskatoon Food Cluster, with the goal of supporting the creation of more food and ingredient companies in the province.

Filling the gap in Saskatchewan’s agri-food innovation pipeline

Agri-food start-ups have unique challenges. They often need highly specialized equipment and staff, have high upfront costs, and face a long road to market entry and revenue generation.

To address those challenges in Saskatchewan, AgWest Bio joined forces with the Global Institute for Food Security, Innovation Place, and the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre to create the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership (GAAP), located at Innovation Place in Saskatoon.

Officially launched in December 2021, the GAAP provides facilities, mentorship, equipment training, and funding to early stage, homegrown companies, as well as international clients looking to establish a presence in Western Canada.

Creating connections

Business is built on relationships. One of Ag-West Bio’s roles is to help people make the connections they need to grow their businesses.

To do this, we bring groups together in many forums, including hosting meetings and workshops, as well as organizing tours for international visitors.

Ag-West Bio manages the Agricultural Bioscience Innovation Centre (ABIC) Speaker Series, where experts from around the world inspire and teach entrepreneurs and the public about bioscience innovation. Past speakers have included Dr. Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Laureate and biochemist, and the co-inventor of CRISPR gene editing technology; Brent Zettl, president and CEO of ZYUS Life Sciences; and Curtis Frank, president and COO of Maple Leaf Foods. The Spring 2022 event on April 19 features Sylvia Wulf, president and CEO of AquaBounty Technologies.

The Knowledge Farm

Is a new event series that we co-host with Innovation Place to encourage our community to explore all kinds of agri-food topics. Watch the calendar at theknowledgefarm.ca to discover exciting learning and networking opportunities coming your way – in person at the Boffins Event Centre or from the comfort of your own computer.

Take advantage of networking opportunities we offer. Our Weekly Update and online event calendar can keep you up to date!

Open communication

Keeping information moving is an important aspect of business development. In the bioscience sector, information must flow along many lines—from researchers to entrepreneurs, investors and consumers. Visit our database of Saskatchewan agri-food organizations at saskagrisource.ca.

With good communication networks, entrepreneurs can discover potential partnerships and learn from others with more business experience. People who have already navigated the path to commercialization are usually happy to share their knowledge.

Visit Ag-West Bio’s website for information about Saskatchewan’s bioscience organizations and activities. Check out our blogs and subscribe to our quarterly e-magazine, the BioBulletin. Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.

Get connected, stay informed

The Ag-West Bio team is working to grow the bioeconomy in Saskatchewan—and you can be a part of it!

As a member, you support our efforts to promote Saskatchewan’s bioscience capacity. Keep us aware of your needs so we can work for you. Knowing your challenges, we strive to keep our government informed so the sector can flourish. Visit the website to learn more. www.agwest.sk.ca

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AN INVENTORY OF

MULTICELLULAR SPECIES

HELPING PRESERVE AND PROTECT LIFE ON EARTH

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BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022
BIOLAB

Can we establish a global biosurveillance system? Can we avert a planetary mass extinction? Helping to answer these and other large-scale questions about life on Earth is the goal of Bioscan, a project awarded $24 million in federal funding this past January according to a University of Guelph news article.

Led by Paul Hebert, director of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) at the University of Guelph, a worldwide, interdisciplinary research team will use the funding to advance this ambitious eight-year project begun in 2019. Bioscan will inventory multicellular species and probe their interactions and dynamics while advancing our capacity to protect natural resources, ecosystems, and human health.

“With this grant, Canada’s capacity

to lead Bioscan will be sustained,” said Hebert, a Canada Research Chair in the school’s Department of Integrative Biology and principal investigator on the $180-million, eight-year project.

Bioscan is among seven initiatives nationwide to receive awards through the Transformation 2020 competition, which supports large-scale, Canadianled research projects that address a major challenge and promise real, lasting change.

Involving more than 70 team members at research institutions in Canada and abroad, co-principal investigators include integrative biology professor Mehrdad Hajibabaei, a metabarcoding expert with the CBG, and Graham Taylor, a machine learning and artificial intelligence specialist in the School of Engineering, University of Guelph.

The project aims to compile a DNA reference library for multicellular life, with a focus on species discovery in developing nations, and expand the DNA barcode reference library housed in the informatics platforms at the CBG. To add new “volumes” of species to the database, the centre’s DNA sequencing equipment and “big data” tools crunch through DNA from specimens provided by scientists from the 40 member countries in the International Barcode of Life consortium, also based at the university.

Developed by Hebert and his colleagues, DNA barcoding identifies species based on the sequence characterization of a short, telltale stretch of their genetic material.

By cataloguing what creatures live where, BIOSCAN is developing

BIOLABMAG.COM 23 APPLICATION NOTE
Photos courtesy of the University of Guelph

a baseline for monitoring ongoing changes to biodiversity and ecosystems. That’s critical information for accurately assessing and alleviating human impacts on other species through climate change, invasive species, wildlife trade, habitat disturbance, and resource use, said Hebert.

Without action to stem biodiversity losses, he added, “all evidence points to the first mass extinction event in 65 million years.” Through Bioscan, researchers hope to influence regulatory policies and practices worldwide to mitigate these losses.

Among various biodiversity projects worldwide, CBG researchers are working with colleagues in Costa Rica to examine the benefits derived from the transition to organic farming of pineapple on both beneficial insects and the birds that consume them. In collaboration with researchers in Ghana, metabarcoding is being used to map food webs involving insects and their predators to help control malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Here in Canada, CBG researchers are working with McCain Foods to advance its efforts to develop farming practices that promote soil biodiversity while improving crop yield. They are also barcoding Arctic species to help monitor biodiversity in the North.

Bioscan aims to revolutionize our

understanding of biodiversity and our capacity to manage it. Involving scientists, research organizations, and citizens, it will explore three major research themes: species discovery, species interactions, and species dynamics.

Tracking biodiversity might even help to avert future pandemics, said Hebert. The devastating impact of COVID-19 makes clear the need for a “pandemic interception system,” he said. “Using the power of DNA sequencing, we can not only register the diversity of multicellular life, but also the organisms associated with them.” This is important because other species harbour pathogens that can create health risks, especially as humans encroach on natural habitats.

However, the core mission of Bioscan lies not with protecting human lives but those of the millions of species that share our planet. As Hebert put it, “It’s the only way that humanity will achieve the UN’s goal of living in harmony with nature by mid-century.”

24 APPLICATION NOTE BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022

conditions for samples

Thermo Fisher’s Cryo-Electron Microscope is a specially designed transmission electron microscope which maintains cryogenic temperatures within the sample chamber. Compared to traditional TEMs, it also features a suite of automation and sample-handling technology, increasing ease of use and ensuring that the maximum amount of high-quality data can be collected for each sample. Cryoelectron microscopy samples can maintain cryogenic conditions for as long as 72 hours within the Krios Cryo-TEM and up to 24 hours within the Glacios or Tundra Cryo-TEM. www.thermofisher.com

Energy-saving air fume hood

Hemco’s energy-saving Auxiliary Air Fume Hood requires zero room air. With its sash half open while operating and a face velocity of 100 fpm, the air supply equals the exhaust. Its exclusive dual wall construction offers superior chemical resistance, strength, and durability. It features a one-piece interior fume chamber that is glass-smooth and a bell-shaped exhaust collar. A removable access panel enables ducting connections and electrical services through a singlepoint electrical box. www.hemcocorp.com

High-efficiency petri dish organizing and labelling system

The Sarstedt Petri dish organizing system holds up to 600 dishes (15 magazines of 40 dishes each) and stands out for its high capacity and flexibility. With POS 720, up to 700 Petri dishes per hour are labelled and stacked in sets in a fully automatic process. It reduces labelling errors in microbiology laboratories and processing procedures are made simple and consistent. The time-saving system offers consistent barcode labelling, clear alphanumeric printing, and reliable identification of dishes through the process. www.sarstedt.com

Counting cells

The NucleoCounter NC-100+, available through Rose Scientific, can count avian, fish, insect, mammal, or plant cells. It has nine different levels of sensitivity, which can be adjusted to count the different types of cells. The compact instrument is ideal for cell laboratories performing research or quality control, or monitoring production. Simple to operate, it detects a fluorescent dye, propidium iodide (PI), that’s bound to DNA. Results from the NucleoCounter represent either total or non-viable cell concentration, depending on the sample preparation. www.rosesci.com

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New atomic resolution microscope maintains cryogenic
LAB WARE

RNAdia kit for single-cell research is more affordable

Dolomite Bio recently released a new RNAdia kit they say gives researchers reliable results at half the cost. Savings in reagent costs may enable researchers to run more samples and choose the cell number and sequencing depth they truly need in order to push the boundaries of single cell research even further. When combined with the Nadia platform for high throughput single-cell research, researchers are better able to study a range of unusual or large cell types, such as plants and cardiomyocytes. www.dolomite-bio.com

Two filter configurations offer modular designs

Hoskin Scientific has introduced Bronkhorst filters for gas and liquid flow meters and controllers. Filters play an important role in protecting sensitive components in a fluid system. The modular construct of Bronkhorst combiflow filters offers great flexibility and allows them to be fit with different fluid connectors and filter cartridges. The M1 Series filter cartridges can be replaced without removing the base from the pipe. The M2 Series filters feature a drain outlet and plug, which can be replaced by a regular fitting to accommodate proper connection to drainage. www.hoskin.ca

Incubator offers precision environmental and climate control

Distributed by Betatek, the Friocell line features forced air convection and cooling. The high technical standard of the Friocell Incubator allows exact incubation processes while maintaining precise temperature control both for variation and deviation. In addition to forced air convection and cooling, Climacell incubators also offer humidity control. Together with an optional lighting system, a multiprocessor humidifying and dehumidifying control system ensures perfect homogenous conditions for precise simulation of climatic conditions. www.betatekinc.com

fcc.ca

cpdn.ca

Analyzer measures multiple tests

Nova Biomedical has introduced a Sample Retain Collector (SRC) for its BioProfile FLEX2 cell culture analyzer. The FLEX2 automated cell culture analyzer measures up to 16 tests including pH, gases, metabolites, osmolality, cell density, and cell viability. A single FLEX2 analyzer with SRC provides automated sampling and analysis of these key cell culture tests from as many as 10 bioreactors. The SRC automatically collects cell culture samples from the FLEX2 Online Sampler and stores them in a refrigerated environment to fulfill regulatory requirements for long-term sample retains, as well as enable further offline testing. novabiomedical.com

26 LAB WARE BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022 LIST OF ADVERTISERS & WEBSITES Bio Talent Page 2 .......................................................................................... biotalent.ca AG West Page 5
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» The science of food and
consumer demand for plant based foods
industry
DETECTIVES THAT KEEP FOOD SAFE
Reeling them in How
is changing Canada's fish
DIGITAL

An important platform to promote food science and technology

Onbehalf of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST), it is my privilege to be able to contribute this editorial to Canadian Food Business magazine, in a partnership with its publisher that was months in the making. We wanted to partner with a quality publication that would give us a platform to promote the food science and technology perspective, and give a voice to the professionals employed by the sector. The food and beverage sector is no different from other industries that have struggled under the weight of COVID-19 over the past two years. This has been a challenging time for our members, who have suffered through lockdowns, closures, layoffs, and supply chain issues. In food science academic institutions across Canada, many of our faculty and student members had their classes moved to online learning, adding to the daily stress of balancing work, home, and family.

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As a long-standing association, CIFST didn’t come through the pandemic unscathed. With many of our in-person events, including our annual conference, cancelled, we had to innovate and bring value to our members with online events. At the local level, our chapters, which rely on in-person events to connect with members in their local community, had to cancel all in-person events such as supplier nights, technical seminars, and social events.

In 2021, CIFST celebrated its 70th anniversary virtually. We did our best to carry on with the celebrations with a creative, engaging, and fun campaign. But that was the past; let’s talk about the future. Despite the obstacles, the goals of CIFST are:

• provide a professional network for the exchange of scientific, educational, and business ideas, information, and knowledge;

• be a respected voice on scientific and policy issues of interest to the food and beverage sector;

• promote the professional development and careers of CIFST members; and

• increase awareness of opportunities and careers in the food and beverage sector.

To attain these goals in 2022, we are launching several inperson and virtual events at both the national and local levels.

We are excited to meet in person on a national level for the first time in more than two years at the Canadian Food Summit June 1-3 at the University of Guelph, with the theme “Propelling Research and Innovation.” The conference is an opportunity for exchanging ideas, professional development, networking, and seeing the hottest new products.

On a local level, the first in-person meeting since 2019 will be the Quebec Section suppliers night, which will be held May 12 at Espace Saint-Hyacinthe. I would ask that you visit the various CIFST section calanders to get further details of their program.

We have launched a new education series called “Knowledge Bites” which are biweekly webinars that offer professional development by speakers in academia and industry.

“CIFST *ALT, An Innovation Showcase” was launched in 2020 as a virtual event; it was so well-received we will be presenting it as an in-person event in September.

One of the things that we are very excited about is our new relationship with Canadian Food Business magazine. This newly forged relationship allows our members and stakeholders to have their voices heard.

In this issue, you will find the contributions by CIFST Director Dana McCauley, Chief Experience Officer at the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN), on the topic of trends in food traceability; and, in the summer issue, Dr. Lawrence Goodridge, Director, Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at the University of Guelph, will offer his insights on tracking pathogens in food.

In partnership with the magazine, we have put together an Advisory Committee made up of CIFST volunteers working in food science and academia from across the country. It is my great pleasure to introduce the committee:

• Dr. Marcia English, Associate Professor, St. Francis Xavier University, Department of Human Nutrition

• Dr. Michael Nickerson, Saskatchewan Research Chair and Professor, University of Saskatchewan

• Dr. Amanda Wright, Associate Professor, University of Guelph

• Dr. Hosahalli Ramaswamy, Professor, McGill University

The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to work with the editorial team to help identify food science experts in the field and provide feedback and insights on the magazine’s content. Three of the committee members were recruited from the CIFST Scientific Advisory panel, which has expertise in food chemistry, food processing, food engineering, and food nanotechnology. The fourth member is on our Board of Directors.

Looking into the future, we look forward to a growing partnership and future relationship with Canadian Food Business magazine. We hope that you will come along and support this initiative.

Ayotte is the President of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST).

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CANADIANFOODBUSINESS.COM 29
We are excited to meet in person on a national level for the first time in more than two years at the Canadian Food Summit June 1 3 at the University of Guelph

Winners of the 2021 Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards announced

A nutrition scientist and a Lebanese Indigenous food security foundation will each receive $100,000 as winners of the Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards for 2021.

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, who is the global lead for nutrition and public health at WorldFish, has received the award for research innovation. Based in Malaysia, WorldFish is an international aquatic foods science and innovation entity of CGIAR, the world’s largest agricultural research network.

The other winner, Food Heritage Foundation, received the award for community engagement innovation by using Indigenous culinary traditions to increase food security, food skills, and economic development in Lebanon.

Thilsted studies the nutritional potential of small fish species consumed in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Her work shows that diverse fish and other aquatic foods contain essential micronutrients and fatty acids crucial to the development of children and the health of their mothers. She implemented local and culturally appropriate food-based solutions that improved nutrition and health for millions of malnourished children and their mothers in countries across Asia and Africa, where fish and other aquatic foods are integral to diets and culture.

The Food Heritage Foundation emphasizes local specialties in food preparation, linking rural and urban communities and creating markets for local farmers. In the face of globalization and fast-food chains, the foundation aims to protect local Lebanese knowledge and traditions around food, and empower small producers and farmers, who are seen as key holders of these traditions.

Distributed annually since 2018, the Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards recognize unique approaches and impacts of work by individuals and organizations around the globe.

Snack giant to open new plant in Ontario

Leclerc Foods, a North American snack food manufacturer, has purchased a 790,000-sq.ft. production plant in Brockville, Ont., with plans to begin production in July. The new plant, which will be the company’s largest production facility, represents an investment of more than $100 million over five years and is expected to generate over 100 jobs in the same period. The site will be high-tech, peanut-free certified, and devoted to cookie and bar production.

Building better food with blueberries

Dalhousie's Faculty of Agriculture is partnering with Clever Fruit Products, a Nova Scotia-based food company, to conduct research on converting locally grown wild blueberries into high-value food ingredients.

The four-year project is led by Vasantha Rupasinghe, professor of functional foods and nutraceuticals in the school’s Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences. The Industry and Alliance Program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is contributing $320,000 to optimize a novel process to generate encapsulated food ingredients from fermented wild blueberry.

“This value-added agri-food process is a combination of ancient knowledge on generating health-promoting fermented food and innovative food nanotechnology,” Rupasinghe explains. “The new food ingredients will be assessed for their efficacy in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders, a rising health problem in Canada and worldwide that can lead to social and economic burdens.”

The funds will also help to train a new generation of food scientists.

Canada produces about half of the world’s wild blueberries. About 80% of the wild blueberries produced here are exported in quick-frozen form. Recently, the farmgate value of wild blueberries has declined due to increased supply. Therefore, product diversification through value-addition is timely.

“Once the scalable-manufacturing process is completed, we will manufacture the new food ingredient in Nova Scotia and distribute to the global health food ingredient market,” said Sean Sears, Antigonish-born businessman and Executive Chairman of Clever Fruit Products.

Nutritionist Lorna Vanderhaeghe, a director of the company, said, “The unique raw material and value-added process will help us to introduce clean and healthy food ingredients and dietary supplements to the emerging sustainable global functional foods sector.”

In addition to the beneficial properties, the safety of the new food ingredients will also be studied. The outcome of the proposed research will contribute to the product diversification of Canadian wild blueberries and the health promotion and well-being of Canadians.

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An algorithm to improve lentil processing

Lentils are a major food crop in Saskatchewan, either eaten alone, ground into flour, or increasingly as part of the growing market for plant-based meat alternatives. The choice of appropriate thermal pre-treatment and processing of lentil seeds into flour can enhance the consumption of lentils by improving their nutritional profile and providing new ingredients with various functional properties to be used in food applications.

That can be time- and energy-intensive, so Venkatesh Meda, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, and his research team have been developing methods that effectively use microwaves and infrared energy to speed up the modification process and make it more selective. Altering starch and protein structure during the modification process of lentil seeds can bring about the desirable changes in the functional and nutritional properties of its flour.

“Infrared and microwave energy together can enhance the nutritional and functional properties of the seeds and the flour milled after the treatment,” he says.

Microwave-assisted processing has been used in the agri-food industry in other parts of the world, but not in Saskatchewan. So Meda, along with his PhD students Mehdi Heydari and Tahereh Najib, developed a model to describe what happens to lentils as they are microwave-processed, with the goal of helping the local industry adopt the process. “We are looking at how we can optimize the process to make recommendations for a pilot plant or industrial-scale applications,” Meda says.

The algorithm considers variables such as a lentil’s water content, temperature, the power of the microwave, and how these factors influence functional and structural changes in starches and proteins.

But the amount of energy that gets absorbed, and what it does to the lentils, is not easily measurable using common laboratory tools, so the team turned to the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan.

The CLS’s mid-infrared beamline allowed them to see how variations in the time and power of microwave processing changed the structure of the starch and proteins in various preparations of lentils, from full seeds to milled flour. This is important because these changes to starch and protein can affect how stable the lentils or ingredients are on the shelf long term, and what kinds of foods they can be processed into. By including these variables in the algorithm, lentil processors will be able to optimize the power levels and cooking times to get the result they want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Meda hopes his algorithm can help Saskatchewan’s lentil producers adopt microwave-infrared processing to save time and energy during processing. More efficient and targeted processing could encourage increased use of the locally grown crop in applications like plant-based protein, with benefits for both the environment and the economy.

“The more of these that are grown by our farmers, the more added nitrogen fixation in the soil. It indirectly contributes to the circular economy as a whole because of the environmental footprint and benefits,” he says.

Report identifies threats to crop plants and food security

Helping Canada meet current and emerging threats to its crop plants and food security is the purpose of a new report by an expert panel. The "Cultivating Diversity" report available on the Council of Canadian Academies website, identifies key risks posed to Canadian crop plants by climate change, extreme weather events, and pests and diseases, and pinpoints gaps and overlaps in governance from registration of crop protection products to communication among federal and provincial agencies. The report aims to raise awareness among decision-makers of emerging concerns affecting Canada’s agriculture and forestry sectors.

For more information go to www.cca-reports.ca/protecting-planthealth-essential-to-future-prosperityand-sustainability-new-report

A far ‘out there’ notion may be nearer than you think

A California-based visionary and founder of Project Nourished, Jinsoo An, is developing the world’s first VR-enabled eating and drinking experience and paving the future of digitally augmented food, beverages, and medicine. The company offers a virtual dining experience that replicates existing foods and invents new ones that would be impossible to create in physical reality. Users wear a VR headset that places them in an immersive environment where they can eat 3D-printed algae cubes, while aromatic diffusers and bone-conduction technology manipulate their senses to simulate the dining experience.

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Digital Detectives

A new wave of innovators is

improving food safety and

bottom lines

Do you ever wonder whether your food is safe to eat? While our sensory organs are amazing tools that help us to evaluate the safety of food, they aren’t infallible. In fact, foodborne illnesses occur surprisingly often, affecting many people and exerting stress on the health care system. According to Health Canada, about four million Canadians, or one in eight, are affected by a foodborne illness each year, resulting in more than 11,500 hospitalizations and more than 235 deaths.

While illness is the most significant outcome of our inability to consistently detect pathogens and identify food quality deficiencies, financial losses incurred by food businesses are a significant issue, as well. Despite rigorous quality controls and regulations, the Canadian food system often identifies foods that are past their prime or are suspected of being compromised. When that happens, foods and ingredients are often discarded, resulting in productivity and financial losses that devour profits and lead to higher food prices for the end consumer.

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Fortunately, a new wave of technologysavvy entrepreneurs is using their creativity to come up with new and better solutions for assessing food quality. Because of their efforts, food products are becoming safer, food waste is reduced, and food businesses are able to be more profitable. Canadian companies are on the forefront of this new wave. I spoke to three founders working to solve different food safety and quality problems and discovered that each company, although using different technology to learn different things, are working through a consumercentric lens to sell their technology to food business clients.

Savormetrics is an artificial intelligence driven company, based in Mississauga, Ont., that analyzes biochemical and biophysical factors to determine food quality so that retailers and food processors can get the highest-quality food to the consumer. “Our technology assesses the decay patterns and biochemical markers present in foods so that the best quality food gets to stores when it tastes and looks its best,” explains Harjeet Bajaj, president and CEO of Savormetrics. “Our customers invest in our real-time food quality analyzers because they know that we can help them to have the information they need to make the data-driven distribution decisions required to achieve high consumer satisfaction scores.”

Savormetrics delivers on its value proposition by predicting the shelf life of food products and recommending how to deploy foods differently through the supply chain. For example, using its handheld devices, employees at a distribution centre can assess produce to gauge its true shelf life. If, for instance, a bag of lettuce has five days shelf life, the distribution manager may choose to change plans to send the shipment from Moncton to Vancouver, and instead send it to another province in the Atlantic region. As well as reinforcing customer loyalty, Savormetrics’ clients see significant reduction in waste due to

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shrink, a combination of benefits that also helps companies to be more profitable and less wasteful.

At the step in the food supply chain where value is added to food commodities in manufacturing and production facilities, operations managers are encouraged to schedule large batch runs. While the advantage of having one set of equipment and employees doing the same thing for many hours leads to economies of scale, with larger lots the possible loss of product and productivity when quality issues are identified has been historically large.

For instance, if a piece of metal is found in one chicken nugget as it travels through a metal detector, quality assurance teams must assume that every chicken nugget that didn’t go through that detection device since the last equipment inspection may contain metal as well. Since no responsible company would ship products to their customers with a chance of contamination, historically the entire batch would go into the garbage, leading to food waste and tremendous loss of productivity.

Innovators like Olga Pawluczyk, CEO of P&P Optica (PPO) out of Waterloo, Ont., are making this occurrence much less likely. Using a combination of hardware and software, the company’s Smart Imaging Systems are designed to improve nutritional quality, safety, and sustainability. Once the system is installed on production lines, quality managers get feedback on issues in line, in real time. Since every piece of product is inspected, it’s easier to isolate and eliminate only the small number of products that do not meet quality standards. “We’re

able to understand chemistry quickly and precisely to detect things in new ways that don’t belong on or in our food,” says Pawluczyk.

When it comes to foodborne pathogens, the stakes are higher than brand reputation and efficiency. Life is on the line and time is of the essence. Traditional methods of pathogen detection required samples from a batch to be sent to a lab where a technician would then grow a culture for three days to identify if harmful bacteria is present in the food. This long and expensive process prevented food manufacturers from doing frequent testing and required them to keep large batches of product on hold until samples were cleared to be safe.

“One sample collection per day is really not good enough to ensure food safety because bacterial growth can be massive in just a day or two,” says Nisha Sarveswaran, founder and CEO of Kraken Sense, a Mississauga, ON-based startup that specializes in real-time automated pathogen detection. Kraken Sense’s approach is to draw samples from food production lines continuously to monitor how bacteria levels change. Needing only electricity and a Wi-Fi connection, the company uses filtration systems to monitor water and wastewater quality to detect when bacterial pathogen loads start to approach levels of concern.

While these new tools represent significant progress, Bajaj, Sarveswaran and Pawluczyk predict that traceability tools will continue to improve and offer more opportunities to ensure consumers are confident in food quality. While Kraken Sense is currently perfecting E. coli detection, Sarveswaran

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says the company has started testing for Salmonella, Listeria, and Legionella. Bajaj is also excited by the opportunity to follow produce as it makes its journey through the supply chain, allowing consumers to see information such as where the bagged salad was stored, if it was repackaged along the way, and other handling information that could change its quality or composition. Gathering this sort of data along the supply chain will also allow consumers to view and verify place of origin and product claims, such as organic or non-GMO.

Pawluczyk also sees an opportunity to apply the technology to improve the quality of consumer-facing nutrition information. The nutrition panels on most grocery items are calculated on the basic product formula and reflects that aggregate ingredient used in the formulation from just one set of suppliers. For most of us, this information is all we need to make sound dietary choices. But elite athletes and those with health conditions that require prescriptive nutrients may be looking for more detailed information. PPO’s technology can already analyze protein, fat and water content of meat products, and Pawluczyk envisions a future in which measuring the chemical composition of food quickly will reflect a more accurate nutrition facts panel. PPO’s Smart Imaging System uses an artificial intelligence engine that collects and processes the data gathered by the system, providing food processors with relevant and usable information. Through software modules and training, this AI engine is capable of using the data from the company’s detector modules to assess many different properties of food and provide rich insights over time. Pawluczyk hopes that one day this will be used to precisely measure the nutritional value of every food and food product based on the exact ingredients it contains.

While that may seem like more information than most of us need, as our population ages many experts predict that food will increasingly be prescribed and treated as medicine and preventative medicine. There’s evidence that this trend is already emerging.

Consider Performance Kitchen, a US company whose CEO John Yamin announced that he is working to position functional food as a viable health management tool worthy of insurance company reimbursement.

Canada has a strong international reputation as having one of the best food safety systems in the world. Innovators working to improve traceability are helping Canada maintain that reputation and to export not just more great food products but food safety technology products, as well.

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“Our technology assesses the decay patterns and biochemical markers present in foods so that the best quality food gets to store when it tastes and looks its best”

NORTH AMERICAN GARDENS FOR GOOD PROGRAM

Four Canadian companies were among this year’s recipients of the Gardens for Good grant program which supports community gardens across North America and recognizes them for the role they play in increasing accessibility of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables in their communities. Created by Nature’s Path, a large North American organic breakfast and snack food company, the program sifted through 274 applications this year before landing on the winners, each of whom received $5,000.

“Community gardens connect people to food – the growing of it and the sharing of its bounty,” says Jyoti Stephens, VP Mission and Strategy at Nature’s Path. “They can help increase food security by providing hyper-local access to healthy organic fruits and vegetables while also serving as a hub to connect people in communities to each other.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, in the U.S. alone, food-at-home prices increased 3.5 percent compared to the 20-year historical level of 2% in 2021. In Canada, this January food costs grew 5.7% from a year earlier according to the Consumer Price Index. At the same time, food banks are seeing unprecedented demand. Community gardens are seen as a partial solution to these issues.

The Gardens for Good program annually supports community gardens that provide fresh organic food for those who might not otherwise have access to it. Since the program’s initiation in 2010, Nature’s Path has donated more than $500,000 and supported 52 community garden projects.

“My grandfather was a berry farmer in the 1940’s and he taught my dad, to ‘always leave the soil better than you found it’,” says Arjan Stephens, General Manager at Nature’s Path. “This

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has grown into our mission. We support community gardens through our Gardens for Good program because they leave the soil and communities better.”

Community gardens provide numerous benefits including the provision of healthy foods, community gathering places, and educational programs on horticulture, nutrition and food preparation.

Winners were selected based on public voting, the ability to establish and maintain a garden, the compelling nature in which the garden was described, and a demonstrated need within the community. Special consideration was given to gardens run by and serving BIPOC communities impacted by food apartheid.

Among the winners, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House Urban Farm in Vancouver, British Columbia is a new initiative. Its garden includes almost a full acre of beds that will provide food for its programs and a chance for community members to learn about gardening. The organization connected with Hives For Humanity to install bee hives after the pollinator crops are established.

The Tsi’thotuhutsya:te (The Creators Land) Community Healing Garden Project in Thames, Ontario, empowers marginalized Indigenous youth and their families, creating space for learning, healing and growing mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, while growing their own food supply.

The West Island Mission is a non-profit organization that provides well-balanced, high quality food assistance and other related aid to the less fortunate living in the West Island of Montreal, Quebec.

The fourth Canadian grant went to the Shippagan Community Garden in New Brunswick, which feeds the neighbourhood with fresh, locally grown produce.

Winners also received a bundle of garden goodies from Grow Organic, a package of Nature's Path Organic food products, and a commemorative plaque.

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TREND TOWARD PLANT-BASED PROTEINS

leading to increased innovation within Canadian fish and seafood industry

A shift in consumer behaviour precipitating a reassessment of the value of fish and seafood

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The

Canadian seafood industry is a dynamic one. Dating back to the earliest activities of the First Nations and Inuit people, from the use of nets and traps to the introduction of the latest in fishing technologies and innovation, it’s an industry that’s been developing and evolving for thousands of years. Today, the Canadian fish and seafood trade stands as a leader on the world stage. However, with recent shifts in consumer behaviour and preference toward an increased adoption and consumption of plant-based proteins, the industry is being forced to evolve further. And, according to Ben Wiper, Founder & CEO of 3F Waste Recovery, in Main Brook, NL, it’s an evolution that’s necessary, and one that will ultimately result in benefits to the entire planet.

“There has certainly been a relatively quick move by the Canadian consumer toward plant-based proteins recently,” he recognizes. “It’s a trend that continues to increase, and one that can only lead to good things given the challenges that we face today, including a growing population and lots of food insecurity.”

Wiper believes that developing ways in which low-cost, lowimpact proteins can be produced will become very important in protecting the environment. “There will be opportunities soon for producers and purveyors within the fish and seafood industry to positively contribute, too. Although bioprocessing is relatively new to the Canadian sector, over time, protein can be extracted from the fish by-products and purified for the creation of protein supplements. In the end, everyone should be moving toward the same target, which is figuring out a way to feed 10 billion people in 2050. And the Canadian fishing and seafood industry has the opportunity to make its own impact.,” he says.

FEATURE CANADIANFOODBUSINESS.COM 39
Sean Tarry

A different approach

One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a consumer shift that sees a growing emphasis on health and wellness; as a result, consumers are seeking healthier and more sustainable food options. The global fish market has benefited from this, experiencing increased demand. In fact, according to the recent Statista Consumer Market Outlook, it’s estimated that the Canadian fish and seafood industry will reach $2.9 billion in 2025.

It's success and growth that’s recognized by Wiper. But he suggests that although the movement toward plant-based proteins is one that has yet to hit its stride in full, it represents a portion of that consumer shift and further changes to the market that those operating within Canada’s fish and seafood industry must take notice of. He says it’s a part of the shift in consumer behaviour and lifestyle that poses potential challenges to the sector. However, he also points out that, given the flexibility and agility of the industry in the country, it’s a shift that presents the chance to re-assess and re-evaluate strategies, and to begin considering a different approach concerning the way things are done and the extent to which product is utilized.

“There are massive opportunities for those operating in the Canadian fish and seafood sector to compete and succeed within a changing market,” he says.

“Some are currently looking at things and seem relatively comfortable with the status quo, which includes a number of consolidations. Others, however, are stepping outside of the box and beginning to enter into a lot more collaboration. It’s resulting in the discovery of a great deal of processing efficiencies and facilitating the flow of fish. But by far the biggest opportunity in front of the producers of fish and seafood is in turning each species of fish, one by one, in the most profitable way, into a by-product-first fishery. At 3F, using our intellectual property that we’ve created, we’ve

been able to realize greater use of the product, increasing the by-product of the Atlantic cod to be worth more than 10 times the value of the seafood itself. To support this work, we’ve developed a proprietary algorithm that helps us predict which fish species are most susceptible to market change and disruption, identifying how we go about looking at all of the properties to figure out which ones we can create five to 10 times higher value from the by-product versus the underlying primary processed product. Over time, this is the biggest opportunity and a way to compete in a changing market.”

Increasing economic benefits and value

The consumer shift toward healthier and more sustainable options is one that’s also recognized by Paul Lansbergen, president of the Ottawa-based Fisheries Council of Canada, who adds that it’s simply accelerating a natural progression within the Canadian industry. He describes the fish and seafood sector in the country as a world leader in sustainability, which is governed and directed by a robust regulatory regime. In fact, Fisheries and Oceans Canada reports that 94 percent of Canada’s commercial fish stocks are harvested sustainably. Further, the adoption of independent third-party certification within the country is multiples higher than the global average. And, with respect to food safety, it was the first sector to adopt a preventive control plan. It’s a reputation that’s been earned by the industry through diligence and creativity. And, he adds, it’s one that continues to evolve in the face of the plant-based trend.

“There is a growing number of people across the country who are seeking a plant-based diet,” he acknowledges. “And in their estimation, plant-based analogs provide them with more flexibility and diversity concerning the ways they eat. At the moment, they represent a niche part of the market and are nowhere near replacing the real thing. However, there are some seafood companies around the world that are

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CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022 40

entering into that market and provide that service to customers. At Fisheries Council of Canada, we’re approaching our work with the future needs of the consumer and the planet in mind. Our Blue Economy strategy discussion with the government, including both the wild capture and aquaculture sides, resulted in a joint vision of where we want to be 20 years from now. We want to be a top three global best quality and sustainable producer of seafood. If we can do that, we think that we can double economic benefits gleaned from the industry, double the value of the industry, and double domestic consumption of fish and seafood.”

Continued innovation

Lansbergen goes on to explain that the average Canadian doesn’t eat the recommended two servings of fish and seafood per week, consuming closer to a single serving. Raising awareness among the country’s general public through strong marketing and communication is going to be one of the Council’s priorities going forward. However, he says that supporting much of the Council’s efforts during the next couple decades, driving the work that it conducts, will be continued innovation around everything that it does.

“We’re going to ensure that we continue to create and develop a lot of innovation around the food products that we produce, as well as non-food products, in order to generate additional value. With respect to food products, the innovation is going to be focused on satisfying the convenience needs of today’s time-starved consumer. We’re also going to be developing a consumer guide meant to help Canadian consumers better understand the things to look for as well as providing them with some tips and

tricks concerning preparation and meal ideas. It’s all about educating Canadian consumers, helping them realize the full value of fish and seafood and enticing them to buy more of the product that we produce.”

Positioning for the future

There’s no questioning the strength of the fish and seafood industry in Canada. It’s one that continues to build on the successes of previous years, improving processes and finding efficiencies. It’s growth that is reflective of relentless innovation within the sector and the reputation and respect that it’s earned through hundreds of years of the innovation that Lansbergen refers to. And it’s helping to drive the industry further forward. However, it’s all part of an evolution that Wiper believes is unfolding a little quicker than some operating within the industry might realize and is one that will alter the Canadian fish and seafood market for years to come.

“The time is coming very soon when the old ways of looking at fisheries and processors will come to an end. Within a generation or so, the global fish and seafood industry is not going to be the same. A combination of consumer demand for healthier, more sustainable options, increased governance and scientific innovation is going to precipitate a change. And the sooner fish processors realize this change and start to invest in increasing the value of the product they produce by transitioning their business, the better positioned they’ll be to increase the value of their operation and meet the evolving needs of the Canadian and global consumer.”

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According to the recent Statista Consumer Market Outlook, it’s estimated that the Canadian fish and seafood industry will reach $2.9 billion in 2025

SHOWCASING THE VERSATILITY OF CANADIAN BEANS

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that Canadians are familiar with the nutritive value of beans. Early days saw empty grocery store shelves where canned and bags of dry beans were previously abundant, as uncertainty around supply chains caused Canadians to stockpile nutrient-dense foods. However, even before the pandemic, dry beans were and continued to be a staple in the pantries of Canadians, often reserved for recipes such as chili, stews, or tacos. But the versatility of Canadian beans goes well beyond more traditional recipes, which is why Pulse Canada is working to inject a modern and passionate sentiment into beans by emphasizing their taste and versatility as a nutritious and locally grown source of plant protein.

Few Canadians realize the beans they have in their cupboard were grown right in their backyard—with several varieties, from black beans to kidney beans to pinto beans, grown by farmers across Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. In fact, Canada is leading global producer of dry beans. Consumed as a source of nutritious plant-based protein for centuries across cultures,

Canadian dry beans not only support a sustainable local economy, they also offer positive benefits for those consuming them regularly. A recent study conducted at the University of Guelph demonstrated that one cup of beans per day lowered “bad” cholesterol by 8% over four weeks. Also, it is impossible to escape national and international calls to increase consumption of plant-based protein in diets which may lead to a decrease in risk factors for chronic disease. Canada’s Food Guide acknowledges that many plant protein foods can boost the dietary fibre levels of diets, which has been associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Where do beans fit? Just half a cup serving of dry beans adds 9 grams of plant protein and fibre to diets, not to mention iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, and potassium.

Grown by Canadian farmers, dry beans are an obvious choice for enhancing nutrient density of the diets of Canadians, but barriers exist. Even with the recent iteration of the Canada’s Food Guide, not enough Canadians are taking advantage of this multi-faceted and locally grown food. The lack of investment

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CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022 42

across the retail and foodservice sectors represents a missed opportunity both for the economy and for the consumer. Canadian bean growers aim to change that.

In 2021, Pulse Canada engaged in a research project to define the equity of Canadian beans among Canadian consumers. While infrequent and non-consumers viewed beans as “boring,” “old-fashioned,” and “out-of-date,” various opportunities were shown to create a renewed value proposition linked to perceptions of “modern,” “creativity,” and “passion.” Understanding that 8 in 10 consumers agreed that dry beans are a good source of plant-based protein as a whole food to incorporate into changing diets, we decided to put that data to work.

Over the next year, Pulse Canada is working with chefs, dietitians, and farmers across Canada to show Canadians the versatility and elegance that varieties of Canadian beans can bring to the kitchen. In addition to nutritional attributes, a focus on taste and versatility to elevate foods in new recipes will underpin these efforts. The recently launched “Love Canadian

Beans” campaign aims to remind Canadians of the benefits of the beans in their pantry while showcasing exciting new ways to use them across meal occasions and events. What has also become apparent is that Canadians want Canadian food. As trends around locally sourced food continues to resonate, our data show that less than half of Canadians know beans are grown by local farmers, at a time when 84% of respondents say they want foods produced by Canadian farmers.

With a robust supply chain and consumer alignment with the food experiences that beans offer, Canadian beans farmers are excited to provide Canadians with options that also foster the adoption of healthy plant-forward diets.

A TASTE OF...
Christopher
Marinangeli PhD RD, Senior Director, Research & Regulatory Affairs at Pulse Canada
CANADIANFOODBUSINESS.COM 43
Black beans to kidney beans to pinto beans, grown by farmers across Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. In fact, Canada is leading global producer of dry beans

A big solution for mixing a range of doughs

Built for strength, ease of cleaning, and reduced maintenance time, the AMF Open Frame Mixer is ideal for many dough types, ranging from 800 lbs (363 kg) to 3,200 lbs (1,452 kg). A dough-cooling jacket and optional cooling package ensure consistency and final dough temperature control. A direct drive bowl tilts system eliminates the need for hydraulic chain or belt tilt components, and a single belt-driven, heavy-duty roller bar agitator provides shock load resistance. www.amfbakery.com

Organic baker’s yeast that fights acrylamide

Kerry's Acryleast, distributed by Renaissance BioScience, is a natural, organic non-GMO baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) rich in asparaginase enzyme for acrylamide reduction. Acrylamide naturally forms in starchy food products during high-temperature cooking, including frying, baking, roasting, and industrial processing. Acryleast has a natural ability to consume asparagine much faster than other yeasts, enabling food manufacturers to significantly reduce the acrylamide content in their food products within timeframes better aligned with commercial food manufacturing. www.renaissancebioscience.com

Baking better bread and pasta

For bakers seeking to manage the quality of their finished product, Perkin Elmer offers the Perten Glutomatic 2000 System. It identifies the amount and quality of gluten in flour, wheat, durum, and semolina. The Glutomatic test measures gluten strength as well as wet gluten content, dry gluten content, and gluten water binding capacity, all factors in determining dough elasticity, gas retention, and expansion properties when baking.

www.perkinelmer.com

A whale of a scale

Mettler Toledo’s floor scales, like the Model PFK988-E3000 can record the weight of items up to 6,000 kg, are robust platforms available in many different sizes and designed for weighing loads from 600 kg to more than 25,000 kg in a variety of industries and applications from food to pharmacy operations. These platforms may be individually configured to meet your precision, quality, and environmental needs with options that include hygienic design for easy cleaning, hazardous area approvals for safety, and a broad range of accessories. www.mt.com

Rapid, trace level detection

Metrohm Instant SERS Analyzer (MISA) is a high-performance, portable analyzer system used for rapid trace level detection and identification of food additives, food contaminants, and illicit materials. MISA features a highefficiency spectrograph equipped with Metrohm’s unique Orbital-Raster-Scan technology. It has a minimal footprint and extended battery life, perfect for onsite testing or mobile laboratory applications. MISA offers various Laser Class 1 attachments for flexible sampling options. Analyzer operation is available through BlueTooth or USB connectivity. www.metrohm.com

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Easier temperature scans

Anton Paar’s viscometers provide fast and stable thermoelectric temperature control via Peltier elements. Based on this feature, you can easily perform temperature scans or measure viscosity at a series of alternating temperature values. Without thermostatic baths or refrigerating circulators, you save work and time and can rely on stable, accurate temperature values throughout your measurement. www.anton-paar.com

Software platform detects dangerous mycotoxins in grocery products

Mycotoxins, toxic soil-borne fungi, may move undetected into finished products destined for supermarket shelves. The waters_connect software platform is suitable for the quantitative analysis of regulated mycotoxins, regulated tropane alkaloids, and a range of emerging and masked mycotoxins, and is now available on Waters’ core Xevo tandem quadrupole family of mass spectrometers. The software reduces data review time, processes large sample batches, and boosts data integrity. www.waters.com

New flowmeters unveiled Krohne recently unveiled a range of innovative flowmeters for food applications. The Krohne Optimass Coriolis mass flowmeters are suitable for all process and custody transfer applications. Measuring mass, volume flow, density, and concentration of liquids and gases, Optimass is available in several designs, from twin bent to single straight tube. All Optimass flowmeters provide continuous flow measurement, even with entrained gas. This makes them a great choice for dairy milk receiving, mayonnaise, and shortening with up to 20 percent entrained nitrogen (N2), and ice cream overrun measurement applications. www.krohne.com

Authentication of the Botanical Origin of Dietary

Ingredients

Tried and true mercury analysis

The challenges in mercury determination are well known to analysts who have often had to face a number of issues due to either the tedious sample preparation process or the analysis step. The latter, even with the latest generation of ICP-MS or cold vapour systems, may create a memory effect even after long cleaning cycles. That can be avoided with the DMA-80, distributed through ATS Scientific, which can analyze any matrix (solid, liquid, or gas) without any pre-treatment or chemical additions in as little as six minutes. ats-scientific.com

Authentication of the botanical origin of dietary ingredients enriched in oligomeric polyphenols is challenging. Among Bruker’s new range of MALDI instruments featuring advanced technologies, the MALDI-TOF MS is well suited for characterizing the unique structural features of heterodispersed oligomeric polyphenols in dietary supplements formulated with enriched botanical extracts. MALDI-TOF MS is an advanced analytic tool that provides several significant advantages over more conventional techniques, including unparalleled throughput and speed of analysis, as well as specificity and accuracy. www.bruker.com

A sustainable alternative to plastic bag closures

Kwik Lok has introduced an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bag closures for the European, Australian, and Canadian bakery and produce industries. Composed entirely of natural cellulose fibre, it provides the same reliability as the traditional Kwik Lok, while reducing plastic. Composed of 100% paper board without any plastic, the product answers consumer demand for a bag closure they can compost at home. It has no petroleum chemical components or derivatives, and is made from a standard paper grade that is often used in food packaging. www.kwiklok.com

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CIFST 70th Anniversary Celebrations

Established

in June 1951, the Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology (CIFST) arose from the recommendations of the National Research Council Committee on Food Preservation, which was formed during the Second World War. The committee recognized food technology as an identifiable science and saw a need for trained people in the secondary handling and processing of food in Canada. The committee’s initiatives led to universities developing food science programs and indirectly establishing food science as a profession in the country.

2021 marked the 70th anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST).

To celebrate this significant milestone during a pandemic was challenging. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, all in-person events were moved to virtual. Kicking off the celebrations in February 2021, the institute introduced the CIFST “Time Capsule,” which promoted a series of short weekly videos commemorating the history of processed foods. Each video featured a vintage commercial, starting in 1951, the year CIFST was founded, and concluding in 1977.

To complement the “Time Capsule” video series, CIFST profiled past presidents from the last three decades. Throughout the year, 17 past presidents were featured with their photo and a personal quote in which they shared what a CIFST membership meant to them. The campaign included a tribute to Dr. Jim Smith, who served as president (2007-2009) and died in late 2021.

Two other initiatives were also showcased as part of the celebration. The first was a series of Food Fact Friday posts that were shared weekly on CIFST’S social media. CIFST’s student members contributed the food facts.

Another initiative honoured the long-term commitment and dedication of many CIFST members. Last September, CIFST began featuring weekly online profiles of long-term members who had been with the organization 30 years and more - some had been members for over 45 years.

CIFST’s 70th anniversary was an opportunity to showcase the integral role food science has played in the food and beverage industry. While 70 years is often considered the sunset of life in some circles, the association is just getting started and is looking forward to its next chapter.

MOMENTS IN TIME 46 BIOLAB BUSINESS VOLUME 37, ISSUE 2 • 2022
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