Soy sauce is a staple condiment in many kitchens, adding a savory and salty flavor to dishes. However, for those with sesame allergies, the question remains: does soy sauce contain sesame?
With sesame being the ninth most common food allergy 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. So, if you’re curious about soy sauce and sesame, keep reading!
Does Soy Sauce Have Sesame?
Soy sauce is made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. Sesame is not one of the ingredients in traditional soy sauce. However, some soy sauce brands may contain sesame or be processed in facilities that also process sesame.
Kikkoman, a popular soy sauce brand, makes a gluten-free soy sauce that does not contain sesame. According to their allergen chart, there are no peanuts in their facility, making it unlikely for cross-contact with peanuts to occur. Kikkoman also states that their all-purpose and less sodium soy sauces are brewed in a plant where there are no peanut or tree nut ingredients.
San-J is another brand that makes gluten-free tamari soy sauce and other Asian sauces. They have a strict allergen policy and take great care to ensure their products are free of cross-contamination. They test for peanuts, mustard, sesame, and any gluten including wheat to ensure the line has been cleaned appropriately. Tree nuts, dairy, and egg ingredients are not processed in their plant.
It’s important to note that sesame can appear in unexpected places, such as spice blends or flavorings. In packaged foods manufactured before January 1, 2023, sesame may appear undeclared in ingredients such as flavors or spice blends. If you’re unsure whether a product could contain sesame, call the manufacturer to ask about their ingredients and manufacturing practices.
The Ingredients In Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment that has been used in Asian cuisine for centuries. It is made from four basic ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. Soybeans are the main ingredient and are typically fermented or hydrolyzed to release sugars and umami elements. The wheat flour is used to break down the soybeans and develop the brown color for which soy sauce is known. Salt is added for flavor, and water is used to dilute the mixture.
Traditional soy sauce does not contain sesame as an ingredient. However, some modern-day production methods may add additional brown coloring that contains sesame or be processed in facilities that also process sesame. Therefore, it’s essential to check the label and contact the manufacturer if you have concerns about sesame allergies.
Sesame Allergies And Their Prevalence
Sesame allergies are becoming increasingly common worldwide, with approximately 0.23% of US children and adults being allergic to sesame. According to a recent study, an estimated 0.49% of the US population reported a current sesame allergy, while 0.23% met symptom-report criteria for convincing IgE-mediated allergy. Among individuals with convincing IgE-mediated sesame allergy, an estimated 23.6% to 37.2% had previously experienced a severe sesame-allergic reaction, and 81.6% had at least one additional convincing food allergy.
Most sesame allergies start early in infancy or childhood, but adult-onset sesame allergies are also fairly common. In fact, 1 in 4 sesame allergies are adult-onset types. Similar to other major food allergies, sesame allergies tend to be life-long health problems for both children and adults. Most children outgrow their allergies to egg, milk, soy, and wheat before becoming adults, but most (70–80%) children with allergies to peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame do not outgrow their food allergies.
Symptoms of a sesame allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. To prevent a reaction, it is essential to avoid sesame and any foods that contain sesame or any of its derivatives. Sesame ingredients can be listed by many uncommon names, so it’s crucial to read food labels carefully and ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you haven’t prepared yourself.
Alternatives To Soy Sauce For Those With Sesame Allergies
If you have a sesame allergy and need to avoid soy sauce, there are several alternatives you can try. One option is coconut aminos, which is made from the sap of coconut blossoms and has a similar flavor profile to soy sauce. Coconut aminos are also gluten-free and soy-free, making them a great option for those with multiple allergies.
Another alternative is tamari, a Japanese soy product that is similar to soy sauce but made without wheat. Tamari is also gluten-free and can be used in place of soy sauce in recipes. However, it’s important to note that some tamari brands may be processed in facilities that also process wheat or sesame, so always check the label before purchasing.
Miso paste is another option that can be used as a substitute for soy sauce. Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste has a salty and savory flavor that can add depth to dishes. Look for chickpea-based miso paste if you have a soy allergy.
If you’re looking for something with a unique flavor, you can try using olive brine, umeboshi vinegar (also called ume plum vinegar), or balsamic vinegar with added salt as a substitute for soy sauce. These options will add a salty component to your dish while also imparting their own distinct flavors.