Food Industry

The Food Functionality Industry

In our definition of Food functionality we include a very diversified group of applications. We have further divided this into Nutrition/Infant food, Protein hydrolysis, Extraction of GAGs (Glucose-Amino-Glucans), Dairy and Pet food. Common to most of these applications is that they are based on the application of proteases. However, we also utilize other enzyme groups, e.g. lipases and carbohydrases. Below you will find further descriptions of some of the applications.


Proteases – an introduction

The basic feature of a protease is the ability to convert proteins into peptides and free amino acids. We distinguish between two main groups of proteases: endoproteases and exopeptidases. An endoprotease is capable of cutting peptide bonds inside a protein structure, while an exopeptidase cuts peptide bonds from the end-positioned amino acids in a protein structure. Thereby exopeptidases allow you to produce a high number of free amino acids when degrading a protein, whereas endoproteases produce a high number of peptides.

These different characteristics can be utilized in different applications to obtain different end-results. Examples are: lowering the sensitizing effect, increasing the solubility and developing a particular flavour for a given protein.

In our product range we have a series of endoproteases (e.g. Alcalase®, Protamex®, Neutrase® and Esperase®) and exopeptidases (Flavourzyme® and Kojizyme™ (for soy sauce)).


Nutrition/Infant food

Proteases have been used for more than 50 years to produce infant milk formulas from cow’s milk. The proteases are used to convert the milk proteins into peptides and free amino acids. The main reason is that non-degraded cow’s milk protein can induce sensitization in infants when they are fed the milk. When a higher percentage of the milk protein is degraded, the risk of inducing sensitization or an allergic reaction is minimized. This is very important for infants who are in a high risk group for developing allergies or who are already allergic to cow’s milk. Only some parts of the intact milk proteins represent a potential risk for the infants. These parts are called the epitopes. The epitopes are eliminated by cutting one or more of the peptide bonds within the epitopes. By cutting these peptide bonds the proteases provide a tool for making an important nutritional product that can be used if the mother for some reason does not breast-feed her child. In addition to the above the nutritional value of the infant milk is also increased when the proteins are degraded into smaller peptides.

When producing low-allergenic infant formulas, the type of enzymes used is very important. The enzymes should be chosen according to their specificity. Endoproteases hydrolyze hydrophobic amino acids, and they can be used for this application provided the process is sufficiently controlled.


Protein hydrolysates

Protein hydrolysates cover a very broad range of applications from gelatin hydrolysis to functional meat extracts and soy sauce.


Hydrolyzed gelatin

Hydrolyzed gelatin is an example of a product where the use of proteases substantially changes the functionality of the product. When a solution of gelatin is cooled it will – under normal conditions – form a gel. Just a slight hydrolysis of the gelatin has a dramatic effect on the gelling properties. The gelling ability is quickly eliminated and the protein becomes soluble, even at low temperatures. Hydrolyzed gelatin is used as a nutritional protein supplement for people needing extra protein.

Increased solubility after hydrolysis is not restricted to gelatin: it is a general effect of hydrolysis and is often utilized for other proteins; such as supplemental products based on casein, whey protein, soya protein, meat protein, etc.

The main challenge in the production of these products is to achieve a sufficiently neutral taste. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the specificity of different enzymes and the nature of different raw material sources.

Many protein raw materials have a tendency to develop a bitter taste or another taste defect after hydrolysis, whereas others are by nature bland-tasting, even after extensive hydrolysis. Gelatin seldom develops a bitter taste – in contrast to casein which yields a bitter taste even at a very low degree of hydrolysis. The bitter taste is related to the amino acid sequence and the structure of the peptides. It is known that hydrophobic amino acids in the end-position of a peptide yield a bitter taste. When the hydrophobic amino acid is cut off, the mixture achieves a non-bitter taste. Thus the careful selection of enzymes and optimal processing can prevent most of these problems.


Meat extracts

A range of raw materials from the meat industry can be utilized and processed into valuable ingredients for the food industry. An example is the meat left on the bones after cutting off the lean meat parts. This valuable meat protein normally makes up a high percentage of the total weight of the bone material. In order to utilize this the meat has to be made soluble, separated from the bone and fat material, and then dried to obtain the extracted protein. By using proteases for the process the protein can be made soluble by a gentle hydrolysis process, and products with different properties can be produced, mainly by varying the enzyme composition and dosage. Protein extracted with a relatively low degree of hydrolysis possesses some very good functional properties, making it ideal for use as a marinade for meat products like ham or bacon. These functional extracts can be used to improve the meat products with respect to flavour, cooking loss and sliceability. Other important applications for meat extracts are as flavour improvers in soups, sauces, snack food and pot-noodles.

Depending on the choice of enzymes it is possible to control the flavour of the extract. When for instance Flavourzyme is used for the hydrolysis the result is a higher intensity of flavour.

Extraction of GAGs



Another important application of proteases is to break down protein tissue in order to be able to extract a particular substance, such as heparin. Heparin is a poly-carbohydrate that is widely used to prevent blood clotting during surgery. Heparin extraction is a good example of how a by-product from one production is used for the production process of another valuable product.

Intestines from pigs are used in the production of sausage casing. The inside of the intestines is called the mucosa and is a protein-heparin structure. The mucosa is scraped off, collected and used for the extraction of heparin. Previously the mucosa was left for several days at ambient temperature to allow for significant growth of any microbe that could grow in it. During this uncontrolled fermentation process the protein part was broken down by the enzymes produced by the microbes. However, the process was time-consuming, not very efficient and caused some environmental problems – for instance a significant smell. Today proteases are added to the mucosa, thus securing an efficient breakdown of the protein and resulting in high heparin recovery yields.


Pet food

The most important application of enzymes in pet food production is in the production of digest, which is coated onto or mixed into dry pet food to improve its palatability. Digest is produced using proteases that hydrolyze meat or meat by-products, so liquefying the raw material and creating a good flavour.

Novozymes offers a range of proteases for pet food applications: Alcalase, Protamex and Flavourzyme.


Product Range

The standard Product Range for the Food functionality industry looks as follows. Most products are available in liquid as well as solid form, and in different concentrations. Please contact your local sales office for further details as well as with inquiries about special products not listed here.

Please note that all products listed are not necessarily available in all countries. Contact your local sales office for details.

Alcalase®, Neutrase®, Esperase®, Protamex™, Novozym® FM
Bacterial proteases for improving the functional, nutritional and flavour properties of proteins.

A fungal complex of exopeptidases and endoproteases used for extensive hydrolysis of proteins.

A fungal endo/exopeptidase which boosts the fermentation of soy sauce.

PTN (Pancreatic Trypsin Novo)
Trypsin derived from porcine pancreas. Chrymotrypsin is present as a minor constituent.

PEM (Proteolytic Enzyme Mixture)
Trypsin and chymotrypsin derived from porcine and bovine pancreas. PEM 2500 S has a trypsin activity of min. 1800 USP-u/mg and a chymotrypsin activity of min. 350 USP-u/mg. Average total activity is 2500 USP-u/mg.

Crystalline Porcine Trypsin
A highly purified crystalline porcine trypsin concentrate.

Novozym 871
A 1,3-specific lipase for improving the lipid palatability of pet food.

A 1,3-specific lipase for the production of cheese flavours.

A catalase for the removal of residual hydrogen peroxide.

BAN (Bacterial Amylase Novo)
A microgranulate of bacterial amylase for reducing the viscosity of starch.

A multienzyme complex of carbohydrases, cellulases, hemicellulase and xylanase for breaking down plant cell walls.

Novo-Pro™ D
A Bacillus protease for the production of digest.

A lactase preparation for lactose modification of milk and treatment of yoghurt.

A phospholipase for partial hydrolysis of phospholipids.