Refined Soybean Oil Not An Allergen Say Food Scientists
Soy-allergic people do not react because refined oil contains only minuscule amounts of protein, the culprit in allergic reactions, says food toxicologist Sue Hefle, who headed the research with fellow scientist Steve Taylor.
Their findings do not apply to cold- or expeller-pressed soy oil, which contains more protein and may cause reactions.
“They still need to carefully read labels, but if highly refined soy oil is the only soy ingredient, they know it’s OK to eat that product,” she adds.
For the study, the researchers evaluated 30 highly refined soy oils from around the world. They blended four oils containing the most protein to create a representative worldwide sample.
Collaborating physicians at US, Canadian, French and South African universities fed soy-allergic volunteers 1.5 tablespoons of soy or canola oil hidden in oatmeal.
“None of the 29 volunteers at the five test sites worldwide had a reaction – these 29 people represent a statistically significant sample of geographically and ethnically diverse populations,” said the scientists.
According to Taylor, food manufacturers, regulators and farmers have all expressed interest in the study. He claims the Nebraska findings played a role in recent European Union food allergen labeling decisions as well as the US Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which Congress passed to protect allergic consumers.
Eating Out With Soy Allergies
Perhaps the biggest change to your life with a soy allergy will come from the options available to you when dining out. No longer can you just go grab a quick bite to eat, nor will you be able to freely eat at a friends house.
The best way to avoid getting sick at restaurants is to research ahead of time. Most restaurants post their menus online, which gives me a chance to figure out if this restaurant would be a safe option. Even if the menu says allergy friendly you still should research, because it is really difficult to ensure that a chef or kitchen will wipe off any surfaces, open new bags of ingredients, or even use a different set of gloves when preparing food.
For soy allergies in particular it is important to ask the restaurant what oil they use to fry their food. Often places will use soy or vegetable oil which includes soy in the blend. You also need to ask if there are any items that go into the fryer that contain soy as you dont want to have the risk of cross contamination via the oil.
To that effect, some places I have found to be generally safe include:
What To Look For On Labels
Soy appears in some form in many packaged and prepared foods youd never expect to contain it. When in doubt, call the manufacturers toll-free number on the label. Be alert for these ingredients:
Hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein , hydrolyzed plant protein
Lecithin. Ask your childs healthcare provider if this is safe.
Mono- and diglycerides. These emulsifiers made from soy oil can appear in foods ranging from instant mashed potatoes to chewing gum and ice cream.
Monosodium glutamate, also called MSG. This may be made from soy protein.
Natural and artificial flavoring. These are often soy-based.
Textured vegetable protein
Vegetable gum and vegetable starch. These are often made from soy.
Vitamin E, which contains soybean oil
Many soaps and cosmetics contain soy oil and soy products, so read the labels carefully. Ask your childs healthcare provider whether soy-based inks are a concern.
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What You Can Eat With A Soy Allergy
When you discover you have a soy allergy, you may find yourself cooking at home more. A healthy diet includes simple whole foods, things like meats, vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, and grains.
soy free options are more numerous than ever before and can be found all throughout the grocery stores, both niche health food stores and large chain stores. Living with allergies has gotten a lot more convenient since I was a kid!
want to know the best things to swap for different recipes? make sure you check out my food swap guide!
Soy In Products Around The Home
These products that you may use around your home don’t always contain soy-based ingredients. However, all of them can contain soy, so you’ll need to be careful with them, especially if you’re particularly sensitive or if you experience symptoms simply from touching the allergen.
Products and substances that may contain soy:
- Artificial fire logs
- Medications, vitamins, and supplements
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How Are Severe Allergic Reactions Treated
Currently there is no cure for food allergies. The only option for managing the risk is to completely avoid the specific allergen. Appropriate emergency treatment for anaphylaxis includes an injection of epinephrine, which is available in an auto-injector device. Epinephrine is the only medication that can stop an allergic reaction from progressing and must be administered as soon as symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Antihistamines, if used, should be given AFTER epinephrine has been administered. The injection must be followed by further treatment and observation in a hospital emergency room. If your allergist has diagnosed you with a food allergy and prescribed epinephrine, carry it with you all the time and know how to use it. Follow the advice of your allergist on how to use an auto-injector device.
How Can I Find Out If Soy Is In A Food Product
All FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain as an ingredient a major food allergen are required by U.S. law to list that allergen on the product label. For tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish, the specific type of nut or fish must be listed.
This guide provides information on how you can select soy-free foods by properly reading Nutrition Facts food labels. A Registered Dietitian can provide detailed nutrition education to help you develop a personal action plan.
A soy-free diet is indicated for soy protein allergy. The common allergens are listed either within the ingredient list or after the list. For example, if a product contains natto, a food made with fermented soybean, the product’s label should list the term soy either after the term natto, or state contains soy after the list of ingredients. The FDA currently does not require manufacturers to state if the food was processed in a facility that also processes the 8 common food allergens.
Anyone allergic to soy should avoid the following ingredients and foods:
- Soy: in all forms, including soy flour, soy fiber, soy albumin, soy grits.
- Soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy yogurt.
- Soybean .
- Soy protein .
- Soy nuts and soy sprouts.
- Soy sauce and shoyu sauce.
- Tofu and textured vegetable protein .
You might want to avoid or be mindful when considering the following:
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/02/2018.
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General Guidelines For Soy Allergy
Your child has been diagnosed with a soy allergy. This means that your child’s immune system overreacts to soy proteins. The allergy may go away when your child is older. But as long as your child has the allergy, he or she can’t have any foods or products containing soy. Soy is a common ingredient in infant formulas and processed foods. The list below describes foods that your child can have and foods to stay away from. The list may not include all foods that contain soy proteins.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act is a law that requires U.S. packaged foods to state clearly on the label if they contain soy or a soy-based ingredient.
Sunflower Seed Oil Allergy
Sunflower seed allergy is not particularly common, although I have seen a handful of patients in my practice recently with this type of food allergy. There are a few reports in the medical literature of people experiencing allergic reactions to sunflower seed oil.
A study published in 1986 found no reaction to crude or refined sunflower seed oil in two patients with known anaphylaxis after eating sunflower seeds.
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Managing A Soy Allergy
People with soy allergies need to strictly avoid all products containing soy, because eating any amount of soy could potentially trigger an allergic reaction.
This includes avoiding:
- Soy milk, soy cheese, soy yogurt and soy ice cream
- Soybean oils, including cold-pressed, extruded, and expelled soybean oil.
- Most people with soy allergies can safely eat highly refined soybean oil, but speak with your allergist to make sure this is okay for your child to eat.
- Highly refined soybean oil is not required to be labeled as a soy allergen. Manufacturers dont need to label their product contains soy if their product contains this ingredient. So, if your child needs to avoid highly refined soybean oil, youll need to read labels even more carefully.
- Soy sauce
- Soy nuts and soy nut butter
- Soy protein
- Soy albumin
- Textured vegetable protein
Asian restaurants, including Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, can also be particularly dangerous for people with soy allergies. This is because so many foods in these restaurants contain soy—soy is a staple food in these cuisines.
Even if you order a food that youre sure doesnt contain soy, theres still a high risk of cross-contamination. This is the accidental mixing of a food with soy into a food without soy.
See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.
What Is Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is a type of vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the soya bean plant – not the beans themselves. There are a few different types:
- highly refined
Cold-pressed and expeller-pressed soybean oil both contain soya protein. If you are allergic to soya you should avoid both of these.
However, the highly refined type of oil is a different matter. But why is this?
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How To Read A Label For A Soy
For any FDA-regulated food, the word “soy” must appear somewhere on the label. This can be in the ingredient list. Or there may be a special allergen label such as “contains soy.” Always read the entire ingredient label. Don’t give your child foods with any of these ingredients:
Categories Of Soy Allergies
There are two main categories of soy allergies: IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated soy allergies.
When someone has an IgE-mediated soy allergy, their immune system makes special allergy antibodies called IgE antibodies to soy proteins to help fight them off. These IgE antibodies trigger symptoms of an allergic reaction whenever the person eats a food containing soy, within seconds to hours after they eat the soy product.
Non-IgE-mediated soy allergies also involve the immune system, but they dont involve IgE antibodies. The mechanisms behind these allergies arent yet well understood. This type of soy allergies causes GI symptoms hours to days after the person eats soy, so these allergies are sometimes called delayed-type soy allergies.
Some types of non-IgE-mediated soy allergies include food-protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome , Food protein-induced allergic proctocolitis , and eosinophilic esophagitis . For more on these types of non-IgE-mediated food allergies, please read this article.
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What Is The Government Of Canada Doing About Priority Food Allergens Gluten Sources And Added Sulphites
The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadians with the information they need to make safe and healthy food choices. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada work closely with municipal, provincial and territorial partners and industry to meet this goal.
The CFIA enforces Canada’s labelling laws and works with associations, distributors, food manufacturers and importers to ensure complete and appropriate labelling of all foods. The CFIA recommends that food companies establish effective allergen controls to prevent the occurrence of undeclared allergens and cross-contamination. The CFIA has developed guidelines and tools to aid them in developing these controls. When the CFIA becomes aware of a potential hazard associated with a food, such as undeclared allergens, Health Canada is asked to assess the situation. When a serious risk is identified, the food product is recalled from the marketplace and a public warning is issued. The CFIA has also published several advisories to industry and consumers regarding allergens in food.
More information on the regulations that enhance the labelling of food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites can be found on the Health Canada website.
If you come across a food that you think is improperly labelled, contact the CFIA and provide information about the product.
Report a food safety or labelling concern.
Can I Consume Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a food additive derived from soy bean oil and typically does not contain sufficient protein to cause allergic reactions in individuals allergic to soy. However, as soy lecithin is not totally protein free, some individuals who are very sensitive to soy may still react.You should consult your allergist before eating anything containing soy lecithin.
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Should You Avoid Cooking Oil If You Have A Soy Allergy
If you or someone you love has a food allergy, you know how challenging it can be. It requires planning ahead and being vigilant about reading menus and food labels.
Soy is one of the eight most common food allergens. Soy oil is frequently used in food preparation and those with allergies need to know if it is okay to eat foods cooked in soy oil and what foods you should avoid if youre allergic to soy.
We asked Dr. Melanie Downs, an assistant professor with the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to help us understand some of the science about food what causes food allergies and what foods to avoid to be safe.
The good news: There is no need for soy-allergic individuals to avoid soy oil. Soy-allergic individuals may wish to avoid cold-pressed or expeller-pressed soy oil but this type of oil is rarely used as an ingredient in processed foods, Dr. Downs said.
She explained that oil is usually safe because the part of the food that triggers an allergy is in the protein portion of the soybean.
The food components responsible for soy allergies, like nearly all food allergies, are the naturally occurring proteins in the food. Foods can have a number of different allergenic proteins, and allergic individuals may react to one or more of these allergens, Dr. Downs said.
Soy oil is safe because it has been processed.
However, if you have a soy allergy, its important to carefully read labels.
About The Experts
What Is A Soy Allergy
An allergy occurs when the body is exposed to the soy protein and develops a strong IgE antibody response. This is the bodys own antibodies working to protect the body from something it sees as a threat, in this case a dairy protein. The body responds by triggering the immune system that has different effects on the body that can range from mild to life-threatening.
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What Can I Do To Cope With Having A Soy Allergy
- Be aware of what you are drinking and eating.
- Always verify the ingredients on the label before using any product, even if it was safe the last time you consumed it. Manufacturers may alter recipes, and soy-based foods can be added to a recipe.
- Help children who have an allergy to soy to not eat food offered by peers or classmates.
- If you dine out, make sure to be sure to ask questions regarding the ingredients and the method by which food was made.
- Wear an alert bracelet that has details about your allergy, as well as carry an alert cards.
- Discuss with your physician what you can do to prepare for an reaction. Reactions that are mild can be managed by oral antihistamines. Your physician may recommend self-injectable epinephrine in your bag whenever you suffer from a severe reaction.
Learn What Soy Allergy Is Symptoms Of Soy Allergy Soy Allergy Trends And The Many Hidden Sources Of Soy That People With Soy Allergies Need To Avoid
Soy allergy is one of the top 8 food allergies in the United States. It is largely a food allergy that affects young children, mostly infants and toddlers under the age of 3. Although many children with soy allergies outgrow their allergy when they get older, some soy allergies persist into adulthood and become lifelong. Soy allergies can be especially challenging, because soy is hidden in so many foods. They also have the potential to cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Heres what parents need to know about soy allergies.
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Should I Eat Foods Containing Highly Refined Soybean Oil
Whether or not you choose to eat foods containing this ingredient is a personal choice! Although the scientific evidence shows there is no risk, there are some anecdotal reports of reactions. Remember, you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to. If it feels too much right now, give yourself some grace – maybe another time you can revisit it.
My daughter has mild to moderate delayed reactions to soya, and reacts to soya lecithin. Although her allergic reactions are not fun, and we work hard to avoid her allergens, she doesn’t have Epi-pens and has never had to go to hospital for a reaction before. As we’ve just seen, there’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that eating highly refined soybean oil doesn’t cause allergic reactions. So personally, I feel comfortable giving my daughter foods containing it as an ingredient. We have tried it a couple of times and she has been absolutely fine.
Of course, if you or your child have had very severe reactions to soya in the past, and you know you/they react badly to even soya lecithin, then you might not feel comfortable trying it. If you/your child were to eat some by accident then you shouldn’t need to panic. But even so, you might not choose to eat it purposefully!
If you are in any doubt, please consult your doctor for advice.
Have you/your child eaten foods containing highly refined soybean oil? What foods have you found that contain it as an ingredient? Please share your experiences in the comments below.