Soy sauce is a staple in many kitchens, adding flavor and depth to a variety of dishes. But for those with sesame allergies, the question remains: does soy sauce contain sesame?
With sesame becoming the ninth major allergen to be labeled on packaged foods in the US, it’s important to know what ingredients are in the foods we consume.
In this article, we’ll explore the ingredients in soy sauce and whether or not sesame is one of them.
Let’s dive in and find out!
Does Soy Sauce Have Sesame In It?
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. While sesame is not a traditional ingredient in soy sauce, it’s important to note that some brands may add sesame or sesame oil to their products for flavor.
However, there are many soy sauce brands that do not contain sesame or any sesame-derived ingredients. For example, Kikkoman makes a gluten-free soy sauce that does not contain peanuts or tree nuts, and San-J makes a gluten-free Tamari soy sauce that does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, or egg ingredients.
It’s important to always check the label and ingredient list before consuming any soy sauce product. If you have a sesame allergy, be sure to look for any potential sesame-derived ingredients such as sesame oil or tahini.
What Is Soy Sauce Made Of?
Soy sauce is a liquid condiment that originated in China and is now used in cooking and as a condiment throughout East and Southeast Asia. The main ingredient in soy sauce is soybeans, which are traditionally fermented with roasted grain, brine, and molds such as Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae. During the fermentation process, sugars are released, umami elements are developed, and the brown color for which soy sauce is known is created. In modern-day production, additional brown coloring may be added. Wheat flour is commonly used in the process, so those sensitive to gluten need to look for gluten-free and wheat-free versions, such as some types of Japanese tamari. It’s important to always check the label and ingredient list before consuming any soy sauce product to ensure that it does not contain any potential allergens or ingredients that you may be sensitive to.
Sesame Allergies And Labeling Regulations
Sesame allergies are a growing concern in the United States, with approximately 1.6 million Americans suffering from a life-threatening sesame allergy. Sesame is the ninth most common food allergy among children and adults in the U.S, and it can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including anaphylaxis.
To help those with sesame allergies quickly identify foods that contain sesame, new labeling regulations were put in place as of January 1, 2023. Sesame is now required to be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods, including dietary supplements. This change is part of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act that was signed into law in 2021.
It’s important to note that not all products may have sesame listed as an allergen right away. Foods already in interstate commerce before 2023, including those on retail shelves, do not need to be removed from the marketplace or relabeled to declare sesame as an allergen. So depending on shelf life, some food products may not have allergen labeling for sesame on the effective date. Consumers should check with the manufacturer if they are not sure whether a food product contains sesame.
For those with a sesame allergy, it’s crucial to read food labels carefully and ask questions about ingredients before consuming any product that you have not prepared yourself. Sesame ingredients can be listed by many uncommon names, so it’s important to be aware of all potential sesame-derived ingredients such as sesame oil or tahini.
Alternatives To Soy Sauce For Those With Sesame Allergies
If you have a sesame allergy, it may be difficult to find a suitable alternative to soy sauce. However, there are several options available that can provide a similar flavor profile without the risk of sesame contamination.
One such alternative is tamari sauce. Tamari is made from fermented soybeans, but unlike traditional soy sauce, it does not contain wheat. This makes it a great option for those with gluten or wheat allergies as well as sesame allergies. Tamari can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for soy sauce in any recipe.
Liquid aminos is another potential substitute for soy sauce. While it is made from soybeans, it does not contain wheat or sesame-derived ingredients. However, it does contain more sodium than traditional soy sauce, so be mindful of your sodium intake when using liquid aminos.
Coconut aminos is another alternative that is both gluten-free and sesame-free. It is made from coconut sap and salt and has a slightly sweeter taste than traditional soy sauce. Coconut aminos can be used in place of soy sauce in any recipe, but you may need to adjust the amount of salt used to achieve the desired flavor profile.
Conclusion: Enjoying Soy Sauce Safely And Responsibly
Soy sauce is a delicious and versatile condiment that can add flavor to a wide range of dishes. However, it’s important to enjoy soy sauce safely and responsibly, especially if you have any allergies or health concerns.
Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the high sodium content in soy sauce. While sodium is an essential nutrient, excessive intake can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. To reduce your sodium intake, consider using salt-reduced varieties of soy sauce or using less soy sauce overall.
Secondly, if you have any allergies or intolerances, it’s crucial to read the ingredient list carefully before consuming any soy sauce product. While sesame is not a traditional ingredient in soy sauce, some brands may add sesame or sesame-derived ingredients for flavor. If you have a sesame allergy, be sure to look for any potential sesame-derived ingredients and choose a soy sauce brand that does not contain sesame.
Finally, it’s worth noting that soy sauce is not a significant source of nutrients or health benefits. While it contains isoflavones and antioxidants, the small quantities typically used in cooking are unlikely to provide any substantial benefits. If you’re interested in incorporating soy into your diet for its health benefits, consider other soy products such as tofu or soy milk.