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Soy allergy is a type of food allergy. It is a hypersensitivity to dietary substances from soy causing an overreaction of the immune system which may lead to severe physical symptoms for millions of people. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates soy is among the nine most common food allergens for pediatric and adult food allergy patients. It is usually treated with an exclusion diet and vigilant avoidance of foods that may be contaminated with soy ingredients. The most severe food allergy reaction is called anaphylaxis and is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention and treatment with Epinephrine.
Reactions and treatment
Some people who are allergic to soy protein may have an extreme allergic reaction and go into anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis). In cases of anaphylaxis, emergency medical personnel typically administer epinephrine (available as an autoinjector, such as EpiPen) and an antihistamine such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine). In event of an allergic reaction, the victim should see a physician or immediately go to the emergency room, as anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Food sources of soy protein
Many fast-food restaurants commonly use soy protein in hamburger buns (soy flour), hamburger meat (soy protein) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) in sauces. On their respective websites, McDonald's and Burger King list soy flour as an ingredient in their hamburger buns. U.S. Nutrition Information Multi-grain breads, doughnuts, doughnut mix and pancake mix commonly contain soy flour. Nearly all bread products available in the US now contain soy. Soy can now be found in nearly all types of foods, from meat to ice cream, to cheese, to french fries. Many foods are contaminated with soy due to being cooked in soy oil. At the Jack in the Box fast food chain for example, everything fried is cooked in a soy oil. At Baskin Robbins, over half of all ice creams offered contain soy. Canned tuna may contain vegetable broth which contains soy protein.
Some products [for reasons having to do with national regulation of soy products] don't list soy protein or soy flour on their ingredients labels, yet they still contain soy. There are still many latent issues resolving how soy should be regulated, as well as its long term effects on human health. Unilever Holland use soy bean oil in their peanut butter among other foods, which they state on their website concerning allergies contains no soy bean. People will have allergy reactions but the reaction may be put on peanuts rather than soy oil.
Products containing soy protein include:
- shoyu sauce
- soy (soy albumin, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts)
- soybean (curd, granules)
- soybean butter
- soy protein (concentrate, isolate)
- soy milk
- soy sauce, tamari
- textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
The following food additives may contain soy protein:
- flavoring (including natural and artificial)
- prepared broths, including chicken broth, vegetable broth, and bouillon cubes
Many people with soy allergy can tolerate small or moderate amounts of soy protein: the typical dose needed to induce an allergic response is about 100 times higher than for many other food allergens.
- National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics 2005 http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/allergystat.htm
- “Allergy Facts and Figures,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=20&cont=518
- National Report of the Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, NIH-NIAID 2003 http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/about/organization/dait/PDF/june30_2003.pdf
- "Mayo Clinic: Soy Allergy - Tests and diagnosis", May 20, 2011, retrieved February 26th, 2013
- "McDonald's Nutrition Information and Ingredients", August 26, 2006, retrieved September 7, 2006
- Burger King USA (11 page PDF file) "Burger King Nutrition and Ingredients" Burger King Brands Inc. USA, August, 2006, retrieved September 7, 2006
- Hidden Allergens in Foods, Allergy Advisor, retrieved 2011-12-27
- Staff, Cleveland Clinic. Soy Allergy
- Christopher T. Cordle (1 May 2004). "Soy Protein Allergy: Incidence and Relative Severity". Journal of Nutrition 134 (5): 1213S–1219S. PMID 15113974.
- Soy Allergy information page. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
- Soy Allergy at Food Allergy Initiative
- Soy - One of the nine most common food allergens Health Canada