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Alternatives for Bromelain in Food Processing Applications

Bromelain, a plant-derived protease from the pineapple stem, has a long history of use in the food processing industry. Bromelain was first used in the food industry in the early 1970s. 

The primary applications are meat tenderizing and protein hydrolysis. Currently, there is a shortage of Bromelain on the market due to Covid lockdown practices in certain countries and increased demand from rapidly growing applications. As a result of this global shortage, companies are left with no choice but to look for alternative proteases that will work in their application. 

EDC has several alternative botanical proteases with similar attributes to Bromelain that are non-GMO, plant-derived, and gluten-free.

One protease interchangeably used with Bromelain in many applications is Papain, a natural protease from papaya. Papain has been used in the food industry since the 1950s, and like Bromelain, it is a sulfhydryl, plant-derived protease. Papain offers the added capability to increase the temperature of hydrolysis by 10 Celsius over Bromelain, potentially speeding up the hydrolysis and allowing for improved microbial control. Over the years, some applications have shifted the use of Papain to Bromelain because most Papain products on the market have a distinct odor and the addition of sulfite. EDC has solved both of these problems.  First, by introducing our OMRI-certified, no sulfite added Papain for use in organic processing. Second, by improving upon this product and finding a natural way to remove the odorous compounds, creating a low odor and no sulfite added Papain that will provide a cleaner flavor profile in mild flavored proteins.

The second option is another plant-derived sulfhydryl protease derived from the latex of the fig tree, Ficin. Ficin is an older protease that has a long history of use in the food industry like Bromelain and Papain. EDC reintroduced this product in the last couple of years for use in the food industry. Ficin can be produced with or without sulfites and has a lower odor than Bromelain. It also contains a naturally occurring collagenase side activity. This protease is desirable for certain food applications because it has a lower deactivation temperature than Bromelain or Papain. This is the ideal protease for quick-cooking, thin-sliced meats, and sous vide-style meat preparations.

Both Ficin and Papain have slightly different patterns of cleaving proteins. As such, they offer a possible synergism with Bromelain that could produce the same viscosity reduction or overall hydrolysis with lower levels of Bromelain. Papain and Ficin, like Bromelain, have very broad pH capabilities for protein Hydrolysis giving greater flexibility in hydrolysis over a wide variety of proteins.   

A third botanical option as a replacement for Bromelain is an aspartic acid protease derived from the thistle flower, Thistlezyme®. This thistle protease has been used as a rennet alternative since the time of the Roman Empire. EDC was able to commercialize the extraction and provide a consistent product for commercial use. It has been used extensively in milk protein hydrolysis, cheese manufacturing, and enzyme-modified cheese. This product is not limited solely to the use in dairy and can provide an extensive level of hydrolysis on different proteins. It has interesting potential to hydrolyze gluten, other plant proteins, and as a meat tenderizer. More can be reviewed on our website,

The products we suggest for evaluation are PANOL® RS 100, PANOL® RS 100 LO (low odor version) and ENZECO®Ficin 100 for the powders and for liquids, LIQUIPANOL® RS 100, LIQUIPANOL® RS400, or THISTLEZYME® LIQUID.  

For more information regarding Bromelain alternatives, please contact us at You can also find more information regarding EDC’s products available at and

© Enzyme Development Corporation, April 2022