Tag Archives: soy ingredients

How To Call Companies About Food Allergy Ingredients

Calling companies about soy ingredients can be tough. Most of the folks that you will contact do not understand soy allergies and will need some help from you to get the answer you need.

First, mentally prepare yourself for a positive interaction. Try to see this as an opportunity to educate others about food allergies, and harness the power of your inner charm and kindness.

There are horror stories out there of companies that refuse to speak to anyone but a professional, but I have not had this experience after making dozens of phone calls. Be prepared that the answer you receive may not be the answer you were hoping for, but by calling, you have reminded another company that they need consider those of us with food allergies.

Your phone call could have a much greater impact than you could possibly know.

Next, find the company phone number along with the active and inactive ingredients for the product. Be prepared to mention specific ingredients that are of concern. I would recommend calling, because many companies do not want to provide written statements about allergens.

A note about prescription medications: you will need to get the name of the manufacturer from your prescription bottle or pharmacy. Your pharmacy or doctor may not be able to give you an accurate answer as to whether prescriptions contain soy, because many soy ingredients are not labeled. A pharmacist once told me that I had nothing to worry about, and I had a reaction days later.

You may also want to Google the product, but only review product information directly from the company. I have had many blogs and independent websites to recommend soy free products that were not actually soy free when contacting the company directly.

Think about how you want to introduce your situation clearly and concisely before you pick up the phone. You are welcome to borrow my statement:

“Hi, I am Alanna, and I have a serious allergy to soy. I see your ingredients here for _____ product, but many times soy isn’t listed even when the product contains soy. I need to know if your product contains ingredients that are derived from soy.”

For me, the word “derived” seems to be the magic word, especially when it comes to items like medications and beauty products.

DO NOT initially tell them about any reactions you have had to the product. You can do this after you get the information you need. If you tell them about reactions in the beginning, they may not give you any information because for fear of a lawsuit.

When you call, you may be presented with a few “phone tree” options. Do not choose the option to report an allergic reaction, but use the option that allows you to ask about ingredients or product information. If you are actually having a serious allergic reaction, seek medical treatment first and then call the company.

When you get someone on the phone, you need go ahead and tell them that you have already reviewed the ingredients. Otherwise, they are likely to give you a customer-friendly statement that basically says, “go read the ingredients…you don’t need me for that.” It’s not that they are trying to be rude, it’s that they really don’t understand why you can’t just go read the ingredients. You may also get a vague answer at first (“I don’t see anything in the ingredients”), and you may need to explain again that many soy ingredients are not going to be obvious, and reaffirm that you need to know if the ingredients were derived from soy. Feel free to mention specific ingredients at this point in the conversation.

Sometimes this will be enough to get the answer you need, but if not, every manufacturer has a chemist or a researcher that the rep will need to contact to get the answer. Tell them that you are willing to provide your contact information for a well-researched answer if they need more time.

Once I had someone that kept telling me that she did not have any information about the medication and would not forward my message to a researcher. I went straight to the company Facebook page and told them about the unwillingness of the rep to be helpful. I had a direct answer within minutes and found out that the product was soy free.

The final answer you get may be a clear “yes, this is soy free,” but it may be much more vague. I get two common answers. The first is:

“While we do not intentionally add soy to this product, we do not test the final product to see if it is soy free.”

You will need to make an informed decision based on advice from your doctor if you are willing to take a chance on the product.

The other statement I get is much more troubling.

“While we will be happy to provide you with an ingredient list, there is no way to determine where our ingredients are derived from, because we have many distributors that use differing sources.”

When I hear this statement, it basically says to me that they have no idea what is in their product and I steer clear of anything they make. You will unfortunately get this statement a lot with beauty and household products.

The reason why this is so troubling to me is that we are turning our bodies over to folks that are filling our bodies full of unknown substances that could be harmful. No thank you!

I hope you find this to be helpful, and I hope that you will be successful in finding soy free products for your needs. Just remember that even if you get an answer that is difficult to hear, you have raised awareness for your allergy and are making the world a safer, better place by being a food allergy advocate. Visit my Allergy Friendly Store for product ideas, but again, I always encourage everyone to do independent research to find the product that is right for them.

Calling All Soyvivors: What Other Tips Do You Have for Successful Phone Calls? Please leave tips in the comments below!



One Page Soy Ingredient List

Microsoft Word - The Soy List.docx

Click image for One Page Soy Ingredient List

There have been many times that I wished that I had a one page list of soy ingredients that I could print, laminate, or email, so I decided to make one. The link to the PDF is above (“One Page Soy Ingredient List.”)  I hope this is helpful. As always, please leave a message in the comments below if you know of other ingredients that should be added.

I hope to eventually have more printable documents such as guides to soy free beauty products, foods, and household products.

Soy Ingredient List

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