Letter to Restaurant Managers: Do not use wheat-based soy sauce in foods represented as gluten-free

Letter to Restaurant Managers: Do not use wheat-based soy sauce in foods represented as gluten-free

At Gluten Free Watchdog we have received a number of complaints about restaurants in the US using wheat-based soy sauce in sauces and meals represented as gluten-free. When eating at a restaurant, please ask whether a sauce contains soy sauce & whether the soy sauce contains wheat. Please also share this letter with restaurant managers. A pdf is available for download GFWDRestaurantLetterSoySauce


Dear manager,

It has come to our attention that some restaurants are mistakenly representing soy sauce made from wheat as gluten-free. Under the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule, wheat-based soy sauces and sauces containing wheat-based soy sauce as an ingredient may NOT be labeled gluten-free. While restaurants do not technically fall under the gluten-free labeling rule, the FDA has stated: “If restaurants cannot ensure that the foods they prepare fully comply with FDA’s definition of gluten-free, restaurants should not refer to their foods as being “gluten-free.” 

According to the FDA, “If a soy sauce is made from wheat and soybeans, “wheat” is a gluten-containing grain, and, therefore, cannot make the gluten-free claim (emphasis mine).”

Also according to the FDA, “If a restaurant manager confirms that a menu item bearing a gluten-free claim is made with an ingredient prohibited by FDA regulations on gluten-free food labeling, or if any persons sensitive to gluten become sick after consuming restaurant foods claimed to be gluten-free, it is important that these cases be reported to both the overseeing state agency and to FDA.”

To read the full statements on soy sauce and restaurant use of gluten-free claims, see https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/make-no-mistake-about-it-wheat-based-soy-sauce-is-not-allowed-in-foods-labeled-gluten-free/ and http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/restaurants-and-gluten-free-labeling-claims/

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD

Founder, Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC



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Comment (1)

  • Jan Reply

    Thank you for catching this one! Yes, a huge issue. If Chinese restaurants can find innovative work-arounds, why can’t Western restaurant chefs?

    April 16, 2018 at 7:43 pm

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