Does Soy Sauce Have Gluten?

Soy sauce is an important ingredient in a great number of dishes and certain cuisines, especially those of Asian countries, require a lot of it in almost every dish. While nutrients and health benefits of soy sauce are certainly something to consider, the question does soy sauce has gluten is a much more important one.

A lot of people suffer from some sort of gluten intolerance, and while not all of them are very serious conditions, they probably prefer to avoid any complications, if at all possible. If you are someone who has to use soy sauce often, preparing food for people that you know might have gluten-related issues, this article should offer some interesting insights. The answer to this question requires us to look into a number of details. First and foremost, the main ingredient of soy sauce, soy, is nominally gluten-free, which should be good news for everyone suffering from gluten intolerance.

However, this is not where the story ends. Soybeans are usually grown together with wheat, the most gluten-rich cereal that exist and one that gluten intolerant people have to avoid at all costs. Not only this, but the soybeans are also often transported together with wheat, using the very same trucks, and stored together for prolonged periods of time.

Does Soy Sauce Always Have Gluten?

This often leads to gluten cross-contamination; and while the soy is nominally gluten-free, we often end up with a product that is far from it as it had been contaminated due to lack of proper attention while growing, transporting, and storing the soybeans.

What is even more important for the gluten discussion is the second crucial ingredient of the soy sauce: wheat! That’s right, soy sauce is made using wheat. That’s really bad news if you are gluten intolerant. Or is it?

It would be natural to assume that something that contains wheat as its key ingredient can’t be gluten-free. However, when researching for this article, I’ve come up with some interesting information about the soy sauce production processes.

There are two main types of production processes for soy sauce: natural fermentation and chemical hydrolysis. While natural fermentation seems to be a much healthier process overall, both of them have the same effect on gluten contained within the sauce. Namely, they break down all complex proteins into smaller components and the final product ends up being almost completely gluten-free.

Although not all the gluten is removed, it seems that these processes, if conducted properly, create the final product which contains gluten levels that are below the limit of detection (200 mcg/ml) prescribed by the Codex Alimentarius for gluten-free food.

All this is to say that although we cannot say that soy sauce is 100% gluten-free, the possible existing traces of gluten that remain after the processing are undetectable and should not cause any issues for the majority of people with gluten-related health issues. However, it is not entirely impossible for soy sauce to cause an allergic reaction with very sensitive individuals.

Is La Choy Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

La Choy sauce is a very popular brand of soy sauce and according to their own web page, all of their products are completely gluten-free. The company behind La Choy sauce seems to be very thorough with its labeling policy and making sure to list all the ingredients that may cause a reaction with gluten intolerant people.

However, with all this being said, consumers’ experiences seem to vary. While nominally gluten-free, it seems that some varieties of this sauce have been known to cause adverse reactions in gluten intolerant people. There are quite a few negative reports on sites devoted to finding and maintaining a good diet for people suffering from celiac disease about La Choy sauces. Of course, there are also many positive comments as well, from people who had good experiences.

It seems what we’ve stated for the soy sauce, in general, is also valid for the La Choy sauce. While it will be perfectly fine for most, some people may still display gluten intolerance symptoms when consuming it. If you notice you belong to that group, then you should probably remove La Choy sauce from your diet; but, if you are looking for a good soy sauce to use, La Choy seems to deserve a chance as most people seem to be satisfied.

Soy Sauce Gluten Free Substitute

If all this is not reassuring enough for you, or you happen to belong to the group of people who simply have too low tolerance even to the smallest traces of gluten, there are also gluten-free substitutes for soy sauce that you can use.

One of the most famous ones is tamari, which is often even listed as a suggested gluten-free alternative in recipes containing soy sauce. Tamari is not simply a gluten-free soy sauce, although it looks and tastes quite similarly. First of all, it contains little to no wheat, and you can easily find tamari that contains no wheat whatsoever. Due to different production processes, tamari is darker in color and richer in taste, and not as salty. It is thus not only a great alternative to soy sauce but it has its own place in every kitchen due to its own characteristic properties.

If you happen to love to mess about in the kitchen, then there is another soy sauce gluten-free substitute that you can make on your own. You will need:

  • Two cups of low sodium beef broth
  • Two teaspoons of cider vinegar
  • One eighth teaspoon of ground ginger
  • One teaspoon of molasses
  • A dash of black pepper, garlic, and onion powder each

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil them until the remaining amount is about half a cup. Remove the pan from the stove, let it cool off for a bit and store in a refrigerator. Make sure to stir the sauce before using it.

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