Case Study: Nonylphenol Ethoxylate-free Alternatives in Food Processing


Nonylphenol Ethoxylate-free Alternatives in Food ProcessingConsumers are increasingly more attuned to what they eat, with some consumer segments paying particular attention to the various ingredients that are part of their diet. And as this trend evolves, regulators are also paying attention, not only to ingredients within foods but also to the manufacturing conditions and exposures in the preparation of foods. Cleanliness is a critical part of ensuring a compliant food production process, and the food processing industry has risen to this challenge both to meet regulatory requirements and to protect themselves from potential litigation.

The broader trend towards continued focus on food safety and chemical exposure is increasingly pushing the risk analysis by consumers and regulators beyond just cleaning and to the chemical exposure from cleaning itself. In particular, some chemistries such as nonylphenols which have been identified as endocrine disruptors by regulatory agencies and non-governmental organizations like the World Health Organization, have arisen as being of particular concern. The European Union, for instance, has taken some action in this regard by classifying nonylphenol ethoxylates under REACh Annex XVII, which limits the use level of these chemistries as emulsifiers in agricultural teat dips to 0.1%. Such actions helps limit the exposure of residual NPEs that cleaning of the dairy teat dips may introduce into the dairy food supply. However, other areas of the food processing equipment cleaning might also need to be considered as higher levels of attention are focused on this topic.

The Need

Large livestock processing companies are become more sensitive to the need for NPE-free cleaners for their equipment, and a large provider of supplies and cleaning solutions to the agricultural market was searching for solutions to bring to its customers. Because of the need to maintain cleanliness in the food production process, cleaning performance was a must. At the same time, a solution that possessed an environmentally-friendly profile could prove a positive for claims that some clients might want to make regarding the environmental food-print of their food-production processes.


Air Products’ long experience with NPE-alternative solutions presented a wide array of options for the customer to consider. As each formulation can present different characteristics, the customer sampled various products from our Tomadol® Surfactant line that presented characteristics suitable for their needs, including our Tomadol 1200 Surfactant, which is a general-purpose replacement for nonylphenol ethoxylated with 12 ethylene oxide units, and our Tomadol 25-9 Surfactant, which presented characteristics also suitable as an alternative. Both solutions are CleanGredients certified and meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Enviroment (DfE) criteria.

Adapting to market changes and gaining a competitive advantage through performance-oriented chemistry promises to enable this customer to gain the loyalty and business of its customers. Let us help you meet similar market demands in your application; contact us today to learn how our products, reliability of supply, and high quality standards can help you focus on achieving success in your marketspace.

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Contact Information

  • North America
    Air Products
    T: 800-345-3148
    7201 Hamilton Boulevard
    Allentown, PA 18195-1501 U.S.A.
    F: 610-481-4381

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