Soya milk, Miso, and tofu - what these all have in common might surprise you

The Soya bean belongs to the legume family which also contains dried peas, beans, carob, liquorice and peanut. Having a soya allergy can be difficult to navigate as around 60% of foods contain soya. Beyond the obvious soya products such as milk, soy sauce, soya nuts, soya yogurts and butters, there are many foods that contain soya, such as:

  • Miso

  • Tofu

  • Natto

  • Edamame

  • Yuba 

  • Teriyaki sauce as well as many more

Type of Allergies

There are two types of soya allergy: ‘IgE mediated’ which means the reaction is instant and ‘non-IgE mediated’ which is where a reaction is delayed. For someone with an IgE mediated allergy, the IgE antibodies your body produces mistake the soya protein as harmful and create a chemical such as histamine to attack them. This response causes what we recognise as an allergic reaction. These reactions typically happen very soon after ingesting soya. 

Non-IgE mediated soya allergies are where IgE antibodies are not involved, this means a reaction can happen anywhere between 2-48 hours. 

How often Soya is used

Soya is widely used in baking, baby foods, and other meals such as burgers and ready meals. Avoiding soya can seem near impossible. The level of sensitivity to this allergen can vary from person to person, so an individual approach is going to be needed. 

The UK Food Standards Agency does advise that refined soya oil (the main ingredient of vegetable oil) should be safe for those with a soya allergy. This is due to the fact that the proteins that cause an allergic reaction are removed during the refining process. Products like cold-press soya oil sold in health food shops or over counters can contain the protein which causes a reaction so should be avoided. 

There are several other foods which indicate the presence of Soya. Depending on the severity of sensitivity, it’s best to be aware of them so you can make an informed choice. Food such as:

  • Vegetable oil

  • Vegetable broth

  • Vegetable paste

  • Vegetable protein

There are many foods which have “may contain traces of Soya” foods like:

  • Baby food

  • Various meat products (sausages/beef burgers/cold cuts)

  • Cakes and biscuits

  • Dairy substitutes

  • Frozen desserts and ice creams, among many more. 

While soya may not be a direct ingredient, there could be other ingredients and stabilizers which are used to create that food. 

Do I have a Soya Allergy?

If you have any concerns about your health and any possible allergies please speak to your GP. Some allergic reactions may be delayed and so it’s best to get tested. The test can be done with a skin test or a blood test. Once you have your results you can formulate a plan on how to manage your allergy. 

It goes without saying but always read the label when you have any allergy. Don’t be scared to ask the hospitality staff if you have any concerns. Labeling systems can be complex which is why Allergen Checker has a simplified breakdown of allergens which is easy to follow.

The information provided in this blog is purely informational. Please speak to your GP for further information on any concerns you have regarding Soya allergies. Sources for information are: