Enzymes have played an important part in food production for centuries. One of the earliest examples of an industrial enzyme use was in the production of whiskey. Today, nearly all commercially prepared foods contain at least one ingredient that has been made with enzymes. Some of the typical enzyme use applications include the production of sweeteners, chocolate syrups, bakery products, alcoholic beverages, precooked cereals, infant foods, fish meal, cheese and dairy products, egg products, fruit juice, soft drinks, vegetable oil and puree, candy, spice and flavor extracts, and liquid coffee, as well as for dough conditioning, chill proofing of beer, flavor development, and meat tenderizing.
Enzymes are specialized proteins that act as catalysts to speed up a specific reaction. In most cases, enzymes used in food are used as processing aids where they aid in the manufacturing of food or food ingredients but do not have a function in the final food product. Due to their specialized nature, only a small amount of enzyme is necessary to complete the desired reaction during food processing.
For more information about food enzymes and how they are regulated view the documents below or view the links in our “Links” tab:
- Industrial Biotechnology Journal Publication: “The Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Process for Industrial Microbial Enzymes” (PDF)
- ETA responds to recent Food and Chemical Toxicology article,” GRAS from the ground up: Review of the Interim Pilot Program for GRAS notiﬁcation” by Hanlon et al., 2017 (PDF)
- FDA GRAS Recognized as Safe (PDF)
- Pariza and Johnson paper “Evaluating the Safety of Microbial Enzyme Preparations Used in Food Processing: Update for a New Century”
Food Allergen Information
For information about enzymes and food allergens, read the following document: