What Is Gluten-Free Soy Sauce?

Brandon May

Common forms of soy sauce available on the market are brewed with wheat, a problematic ingredient for those suffering from gluten intolerance and celiac disease. A gluten-free soy sauce uses rice instead of wheat to avoid the gluten protein, and this ingredient is brewed alongside soybeans, water and salt. The certification of a gluten-free soy sauce ensures that every ingredient in the soy sauce has been processed without any wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients. When products are processed with ingredients that contain gluten, like wheat and rye, cross contamination can occur and present problems in those suffering from gluten intolerance.

Sushi can be served with gluten-free soy sauce.
Sushi can be served with gluten-free soy sauce.

Traditional brewing methods for soy sauce use soybeans and wheat combined with water and salt, which is then bottled and used as a common condiment in Asian foods. Since wheat contains gluten, a hard-to-digest protein found in wheat, many people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease cannot consume traditional soy sauce. Gluten-free soy sauce often replaces the wheat ingredient with white or brown rice and keeps all other ingredients the same. Rice is naturally gluten-free, and allows those sensitive to gluten to enjoy the condiment on foods like sushi, spring rolls and various other Asian dishes.

Gluten-free soy sauce.
Gluten-free soy sauce.

Every ingredient in a gluten-free soy sauce must be certified gluten-free by an independent or government-recognized organization for its health and safety. Each ingredient must be processed in facilities with strict regulations regarding gluten; the facilities must not process any ingredients that might contain gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye. If an ingredient in a soy sauce is processed with these ingredients, the gluten protein can cross contaminate and attach itself to the naturally gluten-free food. The certification process helps consumers choose a gluten-free soy sauce with confidence, knowing that each ingredient is free from the possibility of gluten contamination.

Soy beans.
Soy beans.

A type of soy sauce called tamari is often gluten-free, but is not always certified as gluten-free and is not necessarily free from gluten-containing ingredients. It is important to check the label of every soy sauce carefully to make sure it doesn't contain wheat or wheat derivatives, if attempting to avoid gluten. Organic soy sauce is also not free from gluten contamination, making it important to always read nutritional labels of the product. Although gluten-free soy sauce is safer for those with gluten intolerance, the high amount of sodium in the soy sauce does not necessarily mean it is a health food.

Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.
Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.
Although tamari is technically gluten free, it's wise to check the label.
Although tamari is technically gluten free, it's wise to check the label.
Fresh spring rolls may be served with a sauce made with gluten-free soy sauce, peanuts, and sweet chilies.
Fresh spring rolls may be served with a sauce made with gluten-free soy sauce, peanuts, and sweet chilies.

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