Reading a Food Label for a Soy-free Diet

All FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain as an ingredient a “major food allergen” (milk, wheat, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, and soy) are required by U.S. law to list that allergen on the product label. For tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish, the specific type of nut or fish must be listed. (Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, effective 1/2006.)

This guide provides information on how you can select soy-free foods by properly reading Nutrition Facts food labels. A Registered Dietitian can provide detailed nutrition education to help you develop a personal action plan.

A soy-free diet is indicated for soy protein allergy. Here is a list of terms commonly used on ingredient labels that indicate the presence of soy.

Avoid foods that contain these ingredients:

  • Edamame
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Sobee
  • Shoyu sauce
  • Soy albumin, flour grits, nuts, sprouts, fiber, milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Soya
  • Soybean (granules, curd)
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, and isolate)
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Tofu
Ingredients on the label are listed from largest to smallest amount (by weight). This means a food contains the largest amount of the first ingredient and the smallest amount of the last ingredient.

The following ingredients MAY contain soy protein. The source of these ingredients should be verified before consuming the product:

  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Natural flavoring
  • Protein, protein extender, protein filler
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch

Allowed ingredients*:

  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy oil
  • Refined soybean oil (not cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, or extruded)

*Studies show that most people with soy allergies can safely eat foods containing these ingredients.

In the U.S., soybeans are widely used in processed food products.

Common and unexpected sources of soy:

  • Baby food
  • Baked goods (cookies, crackers)
  • Canned broths and soups
  • Canned fish, tuna, chicken and meats
  • Chocolates (cream centers)
  • Cooking oils
  • High-protein bars, cereals, granola, snacks
  • Ice cream
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meat products
  • Powdered meal replacers
  • Reduced-fat peanut butter
  • Sauces (soy, Asian, Worcestershire, gravy)
  • Shortenings


This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/13/2015...#10225