Genetically modified enzymes used in food, perfumes, medicine and cleaning products are “potent allergens” and should be tested like other potentially hazardous chemicals, experts have said [in]… a study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Some techniques allow the products to be labelled as “natural” in Europe and the US but the researchers warn that genetically engineering the enzyme protein may change its allergenic properties.
They measured specific antibodies to artificially created enzymes in blood samples from 813 workers, employed in the food, drinks, chemicals, detergents and pharmaceutical industries.
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Analysis showed that 23% of the employees had specific antibodies to the genetically modified enzymes to which they were routinely exposed during working hours.
The German and British authors admitted that their study was hampered by commercial secrecy, which prevented them from gaining access to the formulations used.
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Flavours produced by the synthesis of aromatic compounds in microbial/fungal systems can be classified as natural under European and US law.
As well as artificially created flavourings and fragrances, industrial applications for enzyme technology range from cheese ripening through speeding up the baking process to enhancing the power of detergents and medicines.