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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

Join The Conversation
Madinat Madinat 10 years
OMG, slap that label on there, STAT!
sinsational sinsational 10 years
I agree they should label it all properly. I personally use Tamari, it's sold in the Natural Food Stores, they brew it longer, no syrup added, I always pick up the light one, tastes good and you need less.
misogi misogi 10 years
I think they should label soy sauce properly. And Kikkoman's the bomb. :D
rocknrollmaw rocknrollmaw 10 years
Ok so Kikkoman is real then? Wow yes i definatley think we have the right to know. Whats with all these big companies and the lies? I love soy sauce! Brown rice , pinto beans w/ soy sauce is a meal to me!
sugar_magnolia sugar_magnolia 10 years
I agree with GeikoSera, this is exactly what was at issue with the "mockolate" debate. It is absolutely imperative that consumers hold food producers to the highest standards. Soy sauce is what it is, and that's not a blend of carmel color and corn syrup with a dash of whatevertheheckischeap!
estrela estrela 10 years
Interesting.... it think they should label thems so people know what they are buying.
Food Food 10 years
Jennifer76 - I've never used (or actually seen) Aloha, I suggest that you check the label, if it says corn syrup or sweeteners, then it's not "real" soy sauce. Or, you could always call the manufacturer and ask them. Wackdoodle - Kikkoman is the real deal. We use that at my house (although we've been experimenting with different kinds). I use it because that's the kind my mom used - from a giant metal gallon gas can size that lived under the sink because where else can you keep a gigantic metal can of soy sauce?
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
Kikkoman is the best in my opinion! I'm glad the Japanese are trying to deal with this. Canadian Maple producers went through a similar thing with all the garbage flooded on the market calling itself "Maple" syrup when it was really garbage!!!! And cheap!
GorgeousGrrly GorgeousGrrly 10 years
EWWWWWWWWWWW! I had always known there was something WAY better about the Soy sauce at my sushi restaurant and the cheap crap in my mom's fridge, I had just never known the facts! EVERYTHING should be labelled correctly!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 10 years
I am all confused. I have always used Kikkoman Soy sauce. Is that real soy sauce or some imposter posing as soy sauce?
jennifer76 jennifer76 10 years
If I use Aloha brand, what am I using?
SU3 SU3 10 years
EVERYTHING should be labeled.
dropstar dropstar 10 years
We should absolutely be able to easily identify genuine soy sauce BEFORE we purchase it. I used to work for a lobbying firm in DC. Several years ago, there was a big controversy within the US catfish industry. Americans were angy that a cheaper fish of a different species from Vietnam was being imported and sold as catfish, when it was inferior to the farm-raised fish raised here. Just last year, our local news reported that a lot of the more expensive fish sold at fish markets (like red snapper, for example) was actually cheaper look-alike species. Of course consumers were paying the higher price. But yes, to protect the integrity of the products we assume we're buying, everything should be labeled. And ragus is right on about allergies. My daughter has five food allergies. Even though a law went into effect in early 2006 requiring manufacturers to list potential allergens in their products, many don't. We've found out the hard way that my daughter can't eat anything from Trader Joe's due to the risk of cross contamination. Everything--from the lentil soup to the applesauce--is processed on equipment shared with eggs, shellfish, and tree nuts, among other allergens. Sorry for being long-winded!
nessabum nessabum 10 years
i always buy kikkoman.
ragus ragus 10 years
Yes THEY SHOULD TELL US! I myself am allergic to MSG, and companies have been hiding it under 50 or so other names including "natural flavors"!!!!! It's sickening... people who are deathly allergic to peanuts need to know whats in their products, I should have the same right to avoid itchy hives!!!!!!!! ~
queencessjosie queencessjosie 10 years
My family's always been using Kikkoman, so I suppose always go safe with Kikkoman if you use soy sauce in your cooking. I never really use soy sauce outside of the house though.
bookgirl bookgirl 10 years
they should have to label it for what it actually is.
asciident asciident 10 years
Yes, they should label it! Also, I love Kikkoman soy sauce.
mallomar mallomar 10 years
Aack! Corn syrup strikes again. I just discovered most "maple syrup" isnt maple syrup and now this. Yes label it!
megagirl megagirl 10 years
The International Hydrolyzed Protein Council - there's an international organization you don't hear about every day! I also think they should have to label it. Throwing a bunch of stuff together that resembles soy sauce isn't the same as soy sauce, and I'm sure people will still buy whichever they like the taste of more. This stuff always annoys me when companies don't want to truthfully label things - it just implies they want to trick people into buying their stuff!
ALSW ALSW 10 years
I had no idea there was a difference!
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