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Occupational safety

Enzymes have a very good safety profile. The exceptions to the safety profile are the ability of some enzyme products containing protease enzymes to cause irritating effects at high concentrations, and the intrinsic respiratory sensitization potential of all enzymes.

Such sensitization may cause respiratory allergy in individuals exposed repeatedly to sufficiently high airborne concentrations of enzyme dust or aerosols.
Respiratory allergy caused by enzymes is similar to the respiratory allergy caused by well-known allergens like grass pollen, house dust mites or cat dander, and the symptoms from an enzyme allergy are also similar to the symptoms known from allergies towards grass pollen, house dust mites, cat dander etc.

Both the irritating effect by enzyme products containing protease and the sensitizing potential intrinsic to all enzymes can be controlled by proper process control, product formulation, and adequate handling instructions to avoiding dust or aerosols.

Very detailed guidelines for control of enzyme exposure in production facilities can be found in the “Guidelines for the safe handling of enzymes in detergent manufacturing” published by the international Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE, 2013, updated in 2018) and developed in collaboration with AMFEP. These guidelines were developed for the detergent industry, but the principles stated are generally applicable and should be used by all industries. Further to the publication of the guidelines, other training materials for workers / operators were developed, such as a poster on the safe handling of enzymes and a series of webinars. All materials are available on AISE’s website at this link.

Furthermore, guidelines for the control of enzyme exposure in the Bakery Supply Chain were developed in 2018 by AMFEP in collaboration with the Federation of European Manufacturers and Suppliers of Ingredients to the Bakery, Confectionery and Patisseries Industries (FEDIMA). The 'Guidelines on the Safe Handling of Enzymes in the Bakery Supply Chain' provide the insights, best practices and tools to control dust exposure thus safeguarding the health of workers throughout the baking industry. They provide an overview of the steps that should be taken to mitigate the risks in all sectors of the baking industry; from milling and bakery ingredient production, to craft and industrial bakeries.

Further to the publication of the guidelines for the control of enzyme exposure in the Bakery Supply Chain, a safety poster has also been developed to build on the content of the guidelines. The poster provides recommendations to help safeguard the health of the workers in the baking industry and is available for download in several languages: English, Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, German, Greek, Italian , Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish

Enzyme suppliers can advise or provide more detailed information and support related to the specific enzyme preparation and the handling situation.

In 2019, AMFEP together with CEPI (the Confederation of European Paper Industries) published industry guidelines on the safe handling of enzymes in the paper supply chain.

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