Which Ingredients and Products Require Soy Labels?

Label reading can come with so much confusion and frustration, and calling a manufacturer about a product can be even more frustrating. I cannot tell you how many times a company has told me to go read the ingredients and actually thought they were being helpful.

For many products, reading a label will not tell you everything you need to know.

I have read a lot of differing opinions on what legislation covers when it comes to soy allergy. I am no lawyer, but I am going to tell you what I believe it does and does not cover based on my own experiences with calling companies. Click here for tips on how to call companies about their products.

Label Reading

Whether legislation covers a label or not, you will need to read every single ingredient as well as watching for the “Contains: Soy” label. Sometimes you will see soy in the ingredient list, and other times you will see it listed underneath as a warning, but there isn’t a method to how soy is listed. Also look for long, technical words that contain “soy” somewhere in the middle of the word.

Packaged foods

Packaged foods are covered if they directly contain soy, but NOT if they contain soybean oil or soy lecithin, and not if the ingredients are “derived” from soy. For example, if your spaghetti sauce has the words “spices,” “natural flavors,” or “artificial flavors,” then that could be a red flag. Where did these ingredients come from? Soy could be included in the processing.

This is where my one-page soy ingredient list is helpful when label reading. If you aren’t familiar with an ingredient, do not buy it, and if the ingredient is on the soy ingredient list, you will need to call and verify that the ingredient is not derived from soy.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are not covered and can contain coatings with soy and other chemicals. Buy organic whenever possible, but know that soy can be organic too, and therefore could still be on your fresh fruits and vegetables. If you find that you are sensitive to fruits and vegetables, try thoroughly washing them or peeling them. I use a spray bottle with one cup of water to 1 tbsp of white vinegar to wash my fruits and veggies.

Medications

Medications are NOT COVERED, and I know this because I have had reactions from undeclared soy in both prescription and non-prescription drugs. I think that this is one of the biggest food allergy atrocities that I am aware of to date. I spent a lot of time calling over-the-counter antihistamines a couple of weeks ago to find that some of them are including soy without labeling. If an allergy manufacturer is doing this, you can bet others are too.

I also had an experience with my pharmacist in which he told me that most prescriptions do not contain soy and I had nothing to worry about. WRONG. I had an allergic reaction a few days later only to find that my prescription acid reflux medication contained soy.  No wonder I had acid reflux. 🙂 I have now been able to completely eliminate the prescription acid reflux medicine and rely solely on over-the-counter remedies. It all goes back to the fact that you can read an ingredient label all day long, but that will not tell you if the glycerin, the magnesium stearate, the glycols, the cellulose, etc. is derived from soy.

Below are just a few medication categories that you should be aware of, but there are many more:

  • Antihistamines (even dye free)
  • Acid Reflux Medications
  • Hormonal medications, such as birth control (soy is a phytoestrogen)                                
  • Pain Relievers
  • Any type of liquid medication or inhalant
  • Decongestants and Expectorants
  • Cough Medications and Throat/Cough Lozenges

I would also recommend researching heat patches or general bandages. I put a antibacterial bandage on my finger for a cut a couple of days ago, and I received a tell-tale rash.

Bath, Body and Household Products

I have spent countless hours researching this area, and I would estimate that 98% or more of the bath, body, cosmetic, and household products that you will find in a mainstream grocery or pharmacy contain soy and are NOT labeled. In fact, because soy has a lot of benefits (to those not allergic), many cosmetic companies specifically add and even market soy as an ingredient. Most of the products that I use are ordered online through my Allergy Friendy Store although you may be able to find some soy free products in health food stores.

Below is a list of products that you should beware of:

  • makeup
  • shampoo/conditioner/hair styling products
  • soaps and body wash
  • moisturizers and lip balms
  • laundry/dishwasher detergents and dishwashing liquids (including fabric softeners and scent crystals)
  • toothpaste
  • contact solution
  • household cleaning products
  • razor blades with moisturizing strips
  • Some toilet paper and baby wipes
  • Fragrances
  • Hand Soap (I carry soap with me in public because of bad reactions.)

Other Surprise Sources

Below are a few other items that you should look for that may not be labeled for soy:

  • Pesticides
  • Liquid Smoke (Does eating barbecue make you sick?)
  • New Cast Iron Pans (Can be seasoned with soybean oil).
  • Plastic Bags and Bottles
  • The actual cans and plastics in which foods are stored
  • Pet Food
  • Craft Materials (glue, paints, candle making kits, etc.)
  • Soy ink (found in magazines, newspapers, packaging, wrapping paper, fabrics, desk calendars, etc.)
  • Cardboard boxes (includes those file folders at work!)
  • Carpets, Upholstery, Mattresses, and Cars
  • Clothing
  • Biodiesel fuels
  • Soy dust from bakeries, the bulk bin aisle at the health food store, or shipyards.

Calling All Soyvivors: What have your experiences been with soy labeling? Leave your stories in the comments below!

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9 thoughts on “Which Ingredients and Products Require Soy Labels?

  1. I’ve become so much better when it comes to reading food labels for hidden soy. You are right that the pharmacists don’t even know about it. I’ve asked them before and they’ve told me to just check for allergy labels on medicine container. He hadn’t heard of medicines having soy. I have a lot of trouble trying to find supplements safe to take though. Some claim soy free and turn out to be “soy protein” free. So it still has some ingredient derived from soy. Its been a bummer in that area.

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    1. It is very frustrating. It’s great that the FDA tried to pass some guidelines for labeling, but the requirements fall incredibly short of protecting anyone with a soy allergy. I would love to know what research was done to determine that those allergic to soy did not need to be notified of so many soy derivatives. I do not know of anyone allergic to soy that can strictly read a label for the word “soy” and avoid an allergic reaction. My hope is that by talking about it and telling our stories, we will raise awareness and get some laws updated.

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    2. i have had similar experience. I also found that some medicine depends on the mm whether soy is an ingredient. 4 years ago my youngest grandson was born and needed a supplement to mothers milk. Everyone of the baby formula’s has some sort of soy protein, which each vendor felt didn’t matter and not effect a person. lol I wiped his lips of the formula and got a blister on my thumb. I didn’t know if i could give him anything (contagious)? I started wearing gloves, which upset my daughter. Also my grandson got gerd. at weeks of age. Wonder if soy could have caused?

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  2. all baby formula have some some soy protein. Upon giving bottle to grandson, i wiped his lip and got a huge blister. Could i have been contagious ? i covered w bandaid. Also I have found the more expensive the product the more soy.: ex. Godiva Choc., make-up,etc I started getting boils on my upper thighs, and no one could explain except my liver wasn’t working correct. The in 2008 after 2 bites of a salad with salad dressing, soybean oil, my throat closed, and has been doing so ever since. I have learned many lessons as you, but had thyroid removed in Feb. This has let me feel like i have an opening in my throat since the nodules are gone. Allergy Doctors acted like i was crazy to think soy would do these things. Cleveland Clinic Allergy said it was throat malfunction. ENT say allergy.. Instead of saying they do not know, they make one feel like no one in the world has anything like described. I am really glad to hear about reflux. I am having trouble with reflux medicine, and must take something. Omprexxxxx said no soy, but i feel a light burn in my hands. Will stop taking as soon I get word back from Protonix. Could take 2-3 weeks for answer. thank you for your blog…. I don’t see any mentioning of GMO. I read soy is now 90% GMO, which makes our medicine a bigger worry.
    Labeling- I carry a tube of generic benedryl cream from Dollar tree on me at all times in case i touch can labels written in soy. (campbell’s select soup was one). Also i touched a foam mattress pad, and my hands looked like blood red. I use the cream lots to prevent rashes and swelling.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I hope that the more we tell our stories, the more attention soy allergies will get. Protonix was the medication I was taking that I had an allergic reaction to, although I am sure there are many manufacturers of the same medication. I had no idea about the possibility of soy in gasoline! That is definitely scary! Just a note about the Benadryl cream…soy can also be found in antihistamines, which is mind-boggling to me! Please keep us posted on how you are doing!

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  3. I am so happy to have found your blog because it almost becomes to much. While I was a road warrior, I started reacting to soaps, lotions, etc at hotels.. Then I started getting boils, which no one could give an answer. When the throat started closing, it is like I am making it up. A Dr sprayed my throat to check it when it swelled shut. I could breath through my nose, but needed to be reminded by the Dr. All the fluid filled the throat area, and caused gagging. When I couldn;’t get my air= he kept telling me to breath through my nose. This Dr now wants me in a hospital to check anything with my throat Several Dr’s have said it is not normal to be allergic to soybean oil. Allergy Dr at Cleveland Clinic said it wasn’t an allergy, it had to be my throat. because if it was an allergy I would not have been able to breath through my nose, it also would have been closed. 3 ENT;s say nothing is wrong with my Throat. I have GERD. One must educate, educate, educate- Dr’s, Pharms, nurses, etc. It is so over whelming. You have given my hope, and facts. I wrote letters everywhere when they were going to produce soy gasoline, we would need face mask. Once doing a craft show, soy candles were burning, and i got blisters on my lips. This was just prior to the first closing in 2008. Imagine what would happen if we had soy fumes from cars!! Also they have started to manufacture furniture using soy. If is it one of the top 8 allergies, what is wrong with these people!!!?? WE are talking large numbers, and numbers mean money, so the bean counters should be listening.

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