Are Enzymes Tested for Toxins and Label Claims?

Supplement capsules with magnifying glass


Have you ever wondered what’s really in a supplement?

Food safety is one of the top concerns of consumers and extends also to dietary supplements. Supplements are considered “foods” and as such are subject to Food and Drug Administration regulations concerning contaminants found during the manufacturing process.

Enzymes derived from fungal fermentation are used in almost all parts of the food industry. Enzymes are more efficient in some processes and help reduce the cost of producing sweeteners, protein fragments, cheese, and bread products. 

In many of these processes, the enzymes are removed from the final product or are inactivated.

Enzymes as dietary supplements are not new — they have existed since the 1950s. The popularity of enzyme supplements has risen dramatically in the past 20 years.

Globalized production of enzymes can raise concerns due to differences in production techniques by different countries. Due to the importance of enzymes in the food manufacturing industry, rigid testing standards are in place to ensure that no dangerous compounds are present in your enzyme supplements.

Three species of fungi are used to produce the enzymes found in supplements: 

  • Aspergillus niger
  • Aspergillus oryzae
  • Trichoderma reesei

Within these species are dozens of subtypes, but enzyme manufacturers use only a select few. DNA and genetic analyses are used to determine that the fungi used in enzyme fermentation do not vary over time or change into another subtype. 

Some types of fungi produce toxic compounds such as ochratoxins and mycotoxins. At one time it was thought that these toxins could be produced by the fungi used in enzyme fermentation. 

However, it was established that these toxins are confined to species found in the wild, and not in those used in industrial and commercial enzyme production. 

The advances in genetic and molecular analyses over the last 25 years revealed that the fungal subtypes used for enzyme production do not contain the genes that produce these toxins. 


Scientist pouring liquid into a lab beaker


Enzyme manufacturers have established testing procedures for all raw materials used to produce enzyme supplements. These tests are documented and reviewed by FDA on a regular basis. 

Tests include enzyme activity, microbiological testing for E. coli and other dangerous bacteria, as well as conformity in texture, odor, and color. Heavy metal testing is also performed since plant materials are used as a growth media for the fungi. 

Grains, comprising the majority of media used to grow fungi, absorb metals from the soil as they grow. Small amounts of arsenic and cadmium are almost always present in the final product, but are well below the values established by the FDA and California’s Proposition 65. These analyses, as well as microbiological testing results, are always included in the Certificate of Analysis that accompanies each lot of enzyme.

FDA requires every distributor of enzyme supplements to perform third-party testing on their products to confirm the manufacturer’s testing. 

Testing is done to confirm the ingredients listed on the label are actually present at the levels claimed. 

Weights of capsules are confirmed, and an examination of the records for production of each batch must be documented. Any discrepancy in taste, color, or odor is cause for rejection of the batch. 

Houston Enzymes inspects each lot of their products to confirm testing was done properly and does not vary outside of established norms. Products are tested on a rotational basis for ingredient identification and verification of enzyme activity. 

Houston Enzymes maintains regular communication with their manufacturer to investigate any irregularity whether it is a damaged shipping package or bottle, improperly filled capsule, or a difference noted by a customer.

When you take an enzyme, you shouldn’t have to worry about what’s in it.

We believe in transparency in testing and label claims for all Houston Enzymes products — so you can know exactly what you’re getting.



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