Quebec’s Innodal targets food safety worldwide

May 30, 2024

Innodal was recently granted Canada’s top innovation honour, the Governor General Innovation Award for their powerful solution to prevent food poisoning. Leah Geller spoke to the founder, Laurent Dallaire, to learn about their technology and how NPC helped them achieve their success.

In Canada alone, thousands of people are hospitalized and hundreds more die each year of food poisoning. Common culprits, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, not only put people’s lives at risk, but also cause billions of dollars in losses for food companies around the world.

Until now, the industry had a limited set of tools to prevent food contamination, such as heat or harsh chemicals during processing, and food preservatives such as salt and sulfites. These can affect the food’s taste, texture and nutrition, and even cause their own health concerns.

Innodal, a Quebec-based biotech, is positioned to revolutionize the food industry with a new, natural technology that protects consumers from contaminants, while maintaining food quality and composition.

(from left to right) Dr. François Bédard, CTO, Innodal, Madam Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Mary Simon and Mr. Laurent Dallaire, CEO, Innodal (CNW Group/Innodal)

“We use a protein produced naturally by a probiotic strain that acts like a scalpel, killing only the pathogen we want to remove,” says Laurent Dallaire, President and Co-Founder of Innodal. “Because the protein’s target is so specific, we only need to use a little of it and any left over just biodegrades into naturally occurring amino acids.”

According to Dallaire, the industry wants clean labels with the lowest number of ingredients possible. Because Innodal’s product is used in such a small quantity – and is long gone by the time someone consumes the food – it doesn’t need to be listed as an ingredient on the label.

Last month, Innodal’s flagship product, Inneo, which targets Listeria, received the Governor General’s Award for Innovation. It is the first antimicrobial protein approved by Health Canada and is pending FDA approval in the United States this summer.

Dallaire credits Natural Products Canada (NPC) for the diversification of their technology into new and broader markets. Innodal received $250,000 from NPC’s Proof of Concept program to extend applications of their product and validate its efficacy.

 “This funding helped us make connections with the food processors,” explains Dallaire. “It allowed us to bridge that gap from high-tech science to real-life application. We were able to show that, whether we were working with the seafood, meat or cheese industry, Inneo would work.”

Innodal partnered with Gaspe Shore, Quebec’s largest lobster and crab processor, and Nutrinor, a large Quebec-based meat processing co-operative, among others.

“We asked them early on what they needed,” says Dallaire. “So we had end users willing to invest time, money and equipment, which is the best proof we have something that really answers a problem in the food business.”

Part of their ongoing work addresses those needs, including targeting common food pathogens, as well as the yeasts and molds that degrade the shelf life of products.

“For us, 2024 is a turning point,” adds Dallaire. “Inneo is going international, with companies in Europe and South America starting to use it, and FDA approval will be a game changer for its commercialization. This year will be all about scaling up – so we’re ready for demand worldwide.”