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Case Study

Detergent Enzymes

The Client

Starbrands Ltd.

The Problem

Our usual activity is airborne and surface monitoring of allergens levels in the workplace. However, we were recently asked by a leading UK manufacturer of cleaning products for help. They wanted to confirm that, in their production processes, their non-biological detergents products were indeed free from the enzyme additives used in their 'biological' products.

Enzymes are added to 'biological' cleaning products in small quantities to improve their cleaning action and stain removal properties. Proteases are commonly used in this role and, whilst efficient, many are allergenic.  Although safe when used correctly, some consumers do not use biological products for reasons of health or choice.

What We Did

We quickly established that one of our in-house developed antisera was appropriate for detecting the protease of interest, and an effective immunoassay was developed with sub-ng/ml sensitivity. Detergents in a concentrated form tend to be aggressive chemical mixtures, often with high alkaline pHs, and would normally be unsuitable for measurement by an immunoassay. However, our experience of developing allergen methods appropriate for the very low levels found in air samples meant that we soon had an assay capable of detecting the protease at the low ppb levels in concentrated detergent by diluting out the detergent's potential deleterious effects on the assay. The sensitivity of around 10ppb adequately met the client's needs.

The client was keen that we could turnaround results from submitted samples on a timescale that did not interfere with their production deadlines. This has involved us modifying our normal sample turnaround time and maintaining a close working relationship with the company.


The company have been able to demonstrate that their non-biological products are essentially free of this particular protease, giving confidence in their production methods and quality control procedures.

Currently we are seeing if we can undertake similar monitoring for another enzyme (amylase) that the customer uses in some of their biological products to remove starchy stains such as gravy and sauces.

We are happy to apply our skills in high sensitivity immunoassays to support product quality control issues. Please contact us if you think we might be able to help.

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