Which types of soy sauce are dangerous

01:00 Wed 27th Jun 2001 |

asks Miss Don:
A recent survey of 100 samples of soy sauce found a frightening amount of dangerous chemicals contained in some of the sauces.

Q. Which chemicals
Twenty-two of the sauces contained a carcinogenic chemical, 3-MCPD (Golden Mountain soy sauce from Thailand had 4000 times the European Union's recommended safety limit). And two-thirds also contained 1,3-DCP, which is only found where 3-MCPD is present and always at much lower levels. However, it's believed to be genotoxic (i.e. it disrupts the DNA) and has no tolerable level. It is more likely to cause cancer when consumed over a long period of time.

Q. How did they get there
Both 3-MCPD and 1, 3-DCP belong to a group of chemicals known as chloropropanols. They are usually produced by adding acid hydrolysed vegetable protein to increase production. Both are avoidable in soy sauce, as the many brands free of both chemicals shows.

Q. Are most soy sauces safe
Yes. Most people won't be affected at all. Although a relatively high number of soy sauces were contaminated, the Food Standards Agency points out that their market share is very small. They are mostly sold in shops which specialise in selling oriental food, and would only be harmful if eaten daily for a long time. None of sauces sampled from the major supermarkets or retail chains had any safety concerns.

Q. So we can carry on using it
Generally yes, but do check that your brand isn't affected (see below). We really like our soy sauces in this country - last year we imported 11,131 million tonnes of the stuff - with a value of 8 million.

Q. That's a lot of soy sauce. So how can we avoid this happening in the future
The Food Standard Agency has overseen the removal of the dangerous soy sauces from shops and warehouses, and is planning a follow-up survey. Local authorities will also visit any premises which may stock these sauces, such as Britain's 9000 Chinese restaurants.

To see the labels/brands of dangerous soy sauces, click

For a list of tested products which were not affected, click

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By Sheena Miller

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