How can I find out if soy is in a food product?

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.)

Reading a nutrition food level

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. The common allergens are listed either within the ingredient list or after the list. For example, if a product contains natto, a food made with fermented soybean, the product's label should list the term “soy” either after the term natto, or state “contains soy” after the list of ingredients. The FDA currently does not require manufacturers to state if the food was processed in a facility that also processes the 8 common food allergens.

Anyone allergic to soy should avoid the following ingredients and foods:

  • Soy: in all forms, including soy flour, soy fiber, soy albumin, soy grits.
  • Soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy yogurt.
  • Soybean (curd and granules).
  • Soy protein (concentrate, isolate, hydrolyzed).
  • Soya.
  • Soy nuts and soy sprouts.
  • Soy sauce and shoyu sauce.
  • Tofu and textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  • Edamame.
  • Miso.
  • Natto.
  • Tempeh.
  • Tamari.
  • Hoisin.

You might want to avoid or be mindful when considering the following:

  • Certain foods that may contain soy protein include Asian cuisine or foods that contain natural and artificial flavoring, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, or vegetable starch.
  • Be cautious or avoid items labeled as hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, protein extender, and protein filler.
  • Soy has been found in things like vodka, alternative nut butters, ice cream, baby food, and low-fat peanut butter.

Studies have shown that most people with soy allergy can safely eat foods containing soy lecithin and soybean oil. The oil should not be cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, or extruded.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/02/2018.

References

  • Food Allergy Research & Education. Soy Allergy. Accessed 10/4/2018.
  • Soyfoods Association of North America. Soy Allergies. Accessed 10/4/2018.
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Soy Allergy. Accessed 10/4/2018.
  • Expert knowledge and experience of healthcare providers at Cleveland Clinic.

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