Where is soy found?
Employed as whole beans, flour, and oil, soybeans are used in a vast variety of ways. Among them, soybean flour is often added to other flours for baking, and the majority of breads contain some soy flour. Plus, soy is fermented to create soy and Worcestershire sauces, and it's used to manufacture tofu, which in turn is integrated into products such as soy based ice cream.4 While young soybeans (aka edamame) are often boiled or steamed and eaten independently, soybean seeds are a source of oil, which is then incorporated into a host of items including salad dressings, margarine, baby food, linoleum, paint, and soap.1,4 In addition, soybeans can be processed to create textured vegetable protein (TVP), which is integrated into simulated meat products and added to meat.
Given the prevalence of soy in processed foods, it's very difficult to avoid, and it's particularly hard to identify because it may be added as a compound ingredient. For example, a food product might contain margarine, and its product label will list the butter alternative. However, if the margarine contains soy, soybean likely will not be listed on the ingredient panel.4
The following foods may contain soy:2,4 artificial cheese, baby food and infant formula, baked goods, black pudding, bread (especially high protein varieties), breakfast cereals, burger patties, butter substitutes (e.g., margarine), candy, canned meat and tuna, canned fish in sauce, Chinese food, chocolates (particularly the creamy centers), cooking oils, crackers, desserts, gravy powders, hot dogs, ice cream, liquid meal replacers, meat products (e.g., sausage, pastes), muesli, pies, powdered meal replacers, salad dressings, sauces (e.g., Worcestershire, sweet and sour, teriyaki), shortenings, snack bars, soups (including canned and packaged), soy pasta products, soy sauce, soy sprouts, soybeans, stews, stock cubes (bouillon cubes), tempeh, tofu, Tofutti, and TV dinners.
The following ingredients, which can appear on food labels, may contain soybean protein:4 bulking agent, carob, emulsifier, guar gum, gum arabic, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), lecithin, miso, monosodium glutamate (MSG), protein, protein extender, soy flour, soy nuts, soy panthenol, soy protein, soy protein isolate or concentrate, soy sauce, soybean oil, stabilizer, starch, textured vegetable protein (TVP), thickener, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, and vegetable starch.