Soy allergy

Soy, product of soybeans (member of the legume family), is one of the most common food or food additive that cause allergies. In many cases, soy allergy already starts in early childhood and it is especially severe among babies and children under the age of 10. Approximately 0.5-1 percent of children have known allergic reactions to soy, but this number is growing rapidly due to the fact that soy is an increasing food ingredient used by the food industry. In the United States, Canada, South America and Europe, soy products and derivatives are widely used in processed and convenient food products. Soybeans alone are not a major food source in the diet of many countries (nations), but because soy itself is used in so many commercially prepared foods and traditionally in the Asian cuisine, attention is strongly required.


Allergic reactions to soy are typically mild or vary from person to person. However, although rare, severe reactions can occur. Studies indicate that for example citizens of Nordic Countries are more sensitive to soy and other legumes (especially peanut).

Allergic reactions

As mentioned, signs and symptoms of soy allergy are mild, such as hives, itching in the mouth, swelling of lips, tongue or runny nose. In rare cases, soy allergy can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) too. To prevent a reaction, strict avoidance of soy and soy products is essential. Always read ingredient labels and ask restaurant employees to identify soy ingredients. Communication is the key for ensuring a safe, enjoyable allergen free meal. Use or “Food Allergy Translate App” or your “Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards” to gain better understanding!

Although most children may outgrow a soy allergy by the age of 10-12, soy allergy does persist into adulthood. A severe soy allergy however can last a lifetime. Tests can help confirm a soy allergy in all age groups. If you have a soy allergy, you will need to avoid products that contain soy. This can be very difficult as soy is widely used in many foods (such as meat products, bakery goods, chocolate and breakfast cereals) and in many counties as dietary protein source.

Avoid foods

Avoid foods that contain soy or any of these ingredients (a few examples):

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Shoyu
  • Soy (soy albumin, soy cheese, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy ice cream, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts, soy yogurt)
  • Soya
  • Soybean (curd, granules)
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein
  • Tofu
  • Cold-pressed soy oil
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch

If you do not recognize an ingredient or there is no ingredient list available, simply avoid the product.

Soy is found in the following:

  • Asian cuisine
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Imitation dairy foods
  • Infant formula
  • Meat product fillers
  • Nutrition supplements
  • Sauces
  • Simulated fish and meat products
  • Vegetarian dishes
  • Some unexpected sources of soy: soybeans and soy products are found in many foods, including baked goods, cereals, cookies, crackers, high-protein energy bars and snacks, low-fat peanut butter, processed meats, and canned soups and as additives.

Soy is found

Many countries require that all packaged food products sold in food stores that contain soy as an ingredient must list the word “Soy” on the labels. However this is not the case in Asia and Middle-East. Many restaurants are especially not following such guidelines and no long-term solutions exist for informing guests with food allergies about the potential presence of the 9 major allergens. Do not let that eating out becomes one of your top concerns.

Asian cuisines are considered high-risk for people with soy allergy due to the common use of soy as an ingredient and the possibility of cross-contact during processing and preparation, even if a soy-free item is ordered.

High risk countries

High risk countries to travel with soy allergy

  • China
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia

Important: People with a soy allergy are not necessarily allergic to other foods. But if you are allergic to soy, you may have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume: peanut than is also a member of the legume family.

With clear communication food allergies can be effectively managed!
According to experts and allergist the most effective and therefore best way to manage a food allergy is total avoidance. Novel solutions of communication seem to be a proven treatment for food allergies. Our Food Allergy Translate tools are contribution strategies to minimize your risk of accidents.

Eating out with food allergy?!

Reduce your risk dramatically by using our Food Allergy Translate App or Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards to communicate your allergy alert in a foreign language.
Let the food service personnel know of your food allergy in advance. At least they should take extra care in preparing your meal!

Be prepared to communicate your needs in any restaurants. Let the restaurant/catering staff informed for avoiding the potential presence of the nine major allergens.

National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics;
National Report of the Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, NIH-NIAID 2003;
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), Tree Nut Allergy;
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004;
Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR). California 2013;
Mayo Clinic: Soy Allergy, 2011)