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Information @ a Glance


  • Papain is a cysteine protease hydrolase enzyme present in papaya (Carica papaya) and mountain papaya (Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis).
  • Papain consists of a single polypeptide chain with three disulfide bridges and a sulfhydryl group necessary for activity of the enzyme.
  • The papain has strong biological activity and the decomposing ability of protein.
  • Papain has a mild, soothing effect on the stomach and aids in protein digestion.
  • It is a common ingridient in brewery and meat processing.

Production & Process

  • Papain is usually produced as a crude, dried material by collecting the latex from the fruit of the papaya tree.
  • The papaya is believed native to tropical America, perhaps in southern Mexico and neighboring Central America.
  • Papain is obtained by cutting the skin of the unripe but almost mature papaya and then collecting and drying the latex which flows from the cuts. 
  • The method of drying is the main factor that determines the final quality of papain. 


  • Papain is used in the pharmaceutical industry, in medicine as well as in the food processing industry.
  • Use of papain in the meat industry for the tenderisation of meat and the production of meat tenderising powders.
  • Papain is commonly used in cell isolation procedures where it has proven more efficient and less destructive than other proteases on certain tissues.
  • Papain has been employed to treat ulcers, dissolve membranes in diphtheria, and reduce swelling, fever and adhesions after surgery.


  • A two-stage papain technique is described in which cell washing after papain treatment is replaced by the addition of a specific papain inhibitor.
  • The tenderizing effects of crude papain, crystalline papain, denatured crude papain, ashed crude papain and sodium chloride has been studied using injection technique.

  • The value of activated papain solution for red cell grouping has been investigated using Low's technique.


  • The market for papain in Europe is getting smaller as alternatives are found and it may be banned from some foods (eg beers) in the near future.
  • The principal producers of crude papain are Zaire, Tanzania, Uganda and Sri Lanka.  Most of the spray-dried papain comes from Zaire.
  • Demand for papain from breweries is declining as cheaper and more readily available substitutes are being used to emulate papainís function.

  • The US market has been estimated at up to double the EU market or roughly 300 to 400 Mts per year.

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