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Grenfell welcomes infusion of funding for functional foods, entrepreneurism

Posted on Friday, August 13, 2021 | Grenfell News Releases

Two important areas of research and entrepreneurial development have received support through the Government of Canada and Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory, located at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre, a partnership of Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic, will receive funding to increase their capacity as supports for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"The continued support of our federal and provincial governments demonstrates their commitment to facilitating our agri-food research and entrepreneurial activities," said Dr. Ian Sutherland, vice-president (Grenfell Campus) Memorial University. "Both the Functional Foods Sensory Lab and the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre are critical to sustainable regional development for the western region of Newfoundland by strengthening collaboration between industry, post-secondary institutions, government, community partners and entrepreneurs."

The functional foods lab will receive a $534,093 non-repayable contribution from the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and $549,314 from the Provincial Government Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) to expand the capacity of the functional foods research program. New analytical and processing equipment, as well as several new positions – a food scientist, analytical chemist, food developer, an industry liaison officer and two graduate students – will allow the development of significant new industry partnerships to support and grow the province's food processing capacity.

Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory officially opens at Grenfell Campus

Published: 13/02/2019 on Grenfell News Releases

The Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory examines "functional foods" – natural or processed food products with known health benefits beyond basic nutritional needs, such as the antioxidants in blueberries, eggs enhanced with omega 3 fatty acids or the probiotics associated with yogurt.


Support for the lab, which operates under the umbrella of Grenfell's Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility, came from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), each of which provided $144,250, industry partner Atlantic Aquaponics, which contributed $20,000, and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, which provided $26,000, for a total of $334,000. This initiative is part of a larger $1.2 million project with the industrial component located at the Industrial Partners Site in Black Duck Siding, NL and the academic component located on the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. 

The new Canada’s Food Guide 

Health Canada’s updated manual for healthy eating

This report sets out Health Canada’s guidelines and considerations on healthy eating. The guidelines are based on the best available scientific evidence. They promote healthy eating and overall nutritional well-being, and support improvements to the Canadian food environment.

The guidelines are for people with an interest in healthy eating and nutrition, including:

  • policy makers

  • health professionals


Download the alternative format 
(Download PDF 1461 KB, 62 pages)

Organization: Health Canada

Type: Guidance Document

Canadian food guide-eat well.jpg
For the love of eel: N.L. company developing new product for international market

Published: 01/20/2019 on CBC News 

For years North Atlantic Aquaponics has been shipping live eels to markets in Korea and Ontario, but now they're working to take their products to a tasty new level. 

The company, which started on the west coast community of Robinsons, is collaborating with the Functional Foods Laboratory at MUN's Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook to test and develop a new recipe for kabayaki eel. 

The Functional Foods Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. Raymond Thomas, allows students from a variety to backgrounds to test, analyze and develop food products.

This week the public was asked to take part in a tasting experiment that got them to rate and rank four different kabayaki samples based on things like appearance, flavour and texture.

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West coast company and Grenfell serve up grilled eel during taste testing event

Published: 01/16/2019 on Thewesternstar

An oily fish, much like mackerel is how Dan Quilty described the grilled eel he sampled in the Functional Foods Laboratory at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook on Wednesday. Quilty stopped into the lab to take part in a grilled eel sensory survey — basically a taste test.

The survey is part of a project the university is working on with North Atlantic Aquaponics Inc. that could see the west coast company move into product production.

Diane Crocker (

Artist-in-residency program fosters relationship between art and science

Published: 06/08/2017 on

A new artist-in-residence program at the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) is extending the concept of the traditional art classroom to the science lab.

Ashley Hemmings, a third-year visual arts student from Conception Bay South, began her Grenfell Campus artist residency in May.

The internship began through a conversation with visual arts instructor Barb Hunt and Dr. Raymond Thomas, a researcher with BERI.

“This was a wonderful experiential learning experience for the students and they were inspired by the labs in terms of the space, the equipment and the work being carried out,” said Dr. Thomas.

Meet the Expert:
Dr. Raymond Thomas

Published: 08/20/2018 on Bestfoodfacts

Dr. Raymond Thomas is an associate professor at Memorial University, Grenfell Campus. His areas of expertise are functional foods development, safety and preservation, dietary lipids, functional foods, grilled food nutritional quality and safety.

Researchers working to increase the forage quality of corn

Published: 09/02/2016 on Thewesternstar

Raymond Thomas, associate professor in boreal ecosystems and agriculture sciences, is the lead on project looking at improved soil health, forage yield and forage quality by intercrossing vine soybeans and forage corn. Where corn is an exhaustive crop, soybeans are restorative and can add protein to the soil and forage quality of the corn. It can also increase soil quality by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.

“If we grow successfully here, then the dairy farmers can feed (it) to the animals and then that way they can get more milk,” said Mumtaz Cheema, and agronomist at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook.

Diane Crocker (

Changing our mines

Posted on January 28, 2020 | Natural Resources Magazine 

Scientists are growing crops from rock dust from an N.L. gold mine

There may not be gold in them thar hills anymore, but there may be an opportunity for agriculture. That’s if a research project—looking at whether vegetables could be grown in the rock dust left over from the Anaconda gold mine on the Baie Verte peninsula—keeps yielding promising crops.

On average, the mine pulls between 1.5 and two grams of gold from every ton of rock. “A little more than the weight of a paperclip,” says Allan Cramm, Anaconda’s vice-president of innovation and development. “Everything outside of that is waste.” That waste comes in the form of pulverized dust and it just sits there on the mine site, he says. Right now, there’s 2.5 million tonnes of rock dust at the site—and growing. Cramm wants to do something with it.

When he found a soil additive online called Rock Dust, he thought he might have something. A few preliminary tests at Anaconda showed their rock dust might have similar properties to the product he found, so he had more testing done through the College of the North Atlantic. Now he’s working with Raymond Thomas, an associate professor of boreal ecosystems and agricultural sciences at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Grenfell Campus, on a rigorous three-year round of testing to see if it’s suitable for market. “This is a breakthrough opportunity for mining in general,” Cramm says.

Thomas has a team of three graduate students from Grenfell working on the project. A fourth will be joining the team soon, he says. They test the dust to be sure it’s free of harmful chemicals like cyanide, which is commonly used to separate gold from rock. Then they try to grow crops with it. The project has now finished its first year and so far the results are inspiring, Thomas says. “We have some results that we find surprising. The prospects are very promising.”

If it works out, the findings could have big implications for the mining industry. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to change mining,” Cramm says. •

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Published study: New benefits of moose and caribou

Published: 01/16/2019 on Grenfell News Releases

A study of moose and caribou meat and moose antlers has uncovered previously unknown benefits of these products.

A study out of the Grenfell Campus Functional Foods Laboratory points to the fact that caribou meat and antlers are rich in functional lipids (fats) which are potentially useful to treat a number of conditions.

The results of the study have been published in "Molecules," a leading international peer-reviewed open access journal of chemistry, and will be the cover story for the print edition.

What next? The functional foods research group at Grenfell Campus, memorial University, is aiming to study the bioactivity of the functional lipids discovered in moose and caribou meat or antlers in different food, cell and animal disease models.

Nutritional treasures found in moose meat, antlers

Published: 01/22/2019 on CBC News 

Raymond Thomas and his team have found evidence of particular types of functional lipids in moose and caribou meat, and in moose antlers, that have shown promise in the treatment of diabetes, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases.

"I've realized from my time here that moose is very, very popular as part of the Newfoundland landscape for positive and negative reasons, so I decided that I was going to look at the lipid profile … of the antlers," said Thomas, whose team is based in the Functional Foods Laboratory on Memorial University's Grenfell campus.

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Bay of Islands fisherman Rick Crane says eel company is staying ahead of the game by diversifying

Published: 01/18/2019 on Thewesternstar

Changing with the times is what Rick Crane believes will bring success in the fishery.

That’s why Crane, a commercial fisherman out of Cox’s Cove, sees initiatives like the one being undertaken by North Atlantic Aquaponics Inc. as the way to go.

He’s not looking for a new market and most of the time just fishes for recreation, even though he has a commercial licence.

There’s also a lot of rules and regulations to work with, and it would be expensive to start up given he’d need equipment to get to the brooks and to keep the eels alive.

Even though it’s not for him, he’s pleased to see others, like North Atlantic Aquaponics, get involved.

“I think it’s amazing, to be diverse. This is 2019. This is not the ’80s now. The fishery is changing and for them to do that, they are staying ahead of the game."

Diane Crocker (

Canola project still going strong on west coast

Published: 09/10/2018 on Thewesternstar

Kavanagh is the research scientist who runs the grain and oilseed program.

Kavanagh said the department is working with Raymond Thomas at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland on the commercial aspect.

Thomas will be spearheading figuring out what the processing requirements are going to be and the nutritional outcome.

Once the cows have started to be fed the canola meal and oil, Thomas will also be testing all their milk to look for changes in the milk quality.

Diane Crocker (

Natural alternatives
Can antioxidants from N.L. wild berries improve locally made soap?

Published: 01/12/2017 on

Researchers at Grenfell Campus are testing the use of natural antioxidants from local wild berries to improve the shelf life and sensory qualities of locally made natural soaps.

“There is currently a high demand for cosmetic products from natural sources,” said Dr. Raymond Thomas, plant biochemist, Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility at Grenfell.

Food security
Grenfell working to increase availability of feed for local livestock

Published: 11/17/2016 on

Short and humid

Researchers at Grenfell Campus are working to secure an adequate food supply for future generations. Dr. Raymond Thomas and collaborators are exploring mix cropping production systems as an approach to increase availability of feed in the province for livestock.

The aim is to determine whether intercropping will bring about these benefits given the short and humid growing season in Western Newfoundland.

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