There are lots of sites with soy ingredients listed on them, but there is one thing I have learned: I could spend all day, every day listing every hidden soy ingredient, and I probably still wouldn’t be able to find them all. I have added as many as I could find to my one page soy ingredient list. Feel free to print this page and take it with you when you shop.
It’s best to call the manufacturer and ask, but I realized early on that customer service agents that don’t have a food allergy don’t realize that reading an ingredient list is not enough. You have to explain to the person answering the phone that there are a lot of hidden soy ingredients or ingredients that are derived from soy that are not obvious. In my early days of phone calls, I got all kinds of customer-friendly responses that basically said, “You idiot, go read the ingredients for yourself.” That’s when I started explaining up front that I had already read the ingredients and explained I needed their identifying hidden soy ingredients. I will have upcoming posts on how to deal with businesses and restaurants that don’t have a grasp on food allergies.
Please be advised that companies can change their ingredient list at any time, so even though it’s a total pain, you will have to read ingredients each time you buy a product.
Also note that the FDA doesn’t always regulate everything in an ingredient list. Most packaged foods are required to have soy clearly labeled (unless it’s from another country), but that is not true for restaurants and household/beauty products. For instance, some fast food chains will say that a food does not contain soy, but when you read the ingredient list, it will note the use of “soybean oil” or “soy lecithin.” They are not required to note the use of these two ingredients, because most of the soy is no longer present in the “material” they are using. Some folks with a soy allergy do not react to those two ingredients because of the trace amounts of soy, but there are others that do (including me.)
Here’s my rule: If I see anything in an ingredient list that doesn’t sound familiar or is not found in nature, I either don’t buy it or call the manufacturer. I assume it contains soy until proven otherwise.
Below are some names for soy in food that may not be obvious. I am NOT going to include names of ingredients that contain the word “soy,” because those will be clearly stated in the ingredients. Or you can find my one-page printable soy ingredient list by clicking here.
Soya, soja, shoyu, tamari, tempeh, tofu, kyodofu, yakidofu, edamame, yuba, okara, bean curd, bean sprouts, kinako, kinnoko, miso, natto, nimame, hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP), MSG (monosodium glutamate), teriyaki sauce, textured vegetable protein (TVP), carob.
There are a lot of ingredients in food and in household/beauty products that COULD be derived from soy, and this is where those lovely phone calls to manufacturers come in handy:
Anything with glycerin, -glycol, or -glycerides in the name, such as mono- and di-glycerides and polyethylene glycol (PEG); citric acid; spices (beware of the spice aisle!); natural or artificial flavoring; bulking agent; hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP); Anything with “gum” in the name (arabic, guar, xanthum, vegetable”; lecithin; anything with “tocopherol” or “Vitamin E” in the name; stabilizer; thickener; vegetable starch,shortening, or oil; isolates; olean; emulsifier; protein or protein extender; anything with alkyd or alykl in the name; anything with quarternary or quaternium in the name; linseed oil, styrene, ethyl sulfates, morpholinium compounds, glycine max, methylcellulose, ascobyl palmitate, tocotretrienols.
A word about bakeries: (Thanks to Louisa for her comment below!) When purchasing bread from a bakery, make sure you ask what type of bread improver they use. Many use an improver made from soy flour, and the most common is S500.
Calling all Soyvivors: Please help me add to this list!
Author: Alanna Waldrop