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Is Your Soy Sauce Really Soy Sauce?


Soy sauce is soy sauce, right? Wrong. There's actually a bit of a feud brewing (or should I make that fermenting?) between the Japanese and the US Codex Alimentarius Commission. Right now there's no labeling distinction between traditional soy sauce (which is brewed and fermented from soybeans) and the American "knock-offs" (extract of soybean and some other protein, flavor enhancer and artificial colorings). The committees in the Codex Commissions have "harmonized hundreds of food standards since the 1960s" and the Japanese want them to set a standard for soy sauce similar to the one used in Japan.

The Japanese manufacturing process, used by companies such as Kikkoman Corp., dates to the 17th century. This so-called "natural brewing" process involves blending wheat, soybeans and a mold, and letting the culture ferment for several months before refining and bottling the sauce.

Food snobs and consumer groups here and in Japan consider non-brewed soy sauce an impostor since it contains caramel color, corn syrup, salt and what is called hydrolyzed soy (or some other protein), in which the protein is reduced to an amino acid to create what is essentially a flavor enhancer.

There's currently a proposal in place that would continue to call both products "soy sauce" in which one would be labeled "Naturally Brewed" and the other "non-brewed."

However, not everyone's pleased with this compromise. The International Hydrolyzed Protein Council, whose members make the "non-brewed" soy sauce, are arguing against the labeling proposal. Martin J. Hahn, an executive director of the trade group stated:

"These products have been manufactured here and around the world for decades and sold as soy sauce, and there have been no complaints from consumers."

What do you guys think? Should they have to label themselves, or does it not bother you?

Source: Washington Post

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