Restaurants: Stop Using Wheat-Based Soy Sauce in Gluten-Free Meals

Restaurants: Stop Using Wheat-Based Soy Sauce in Gluten-Free Meals

If you come across a restaurant using wheat-based soy sauce in a meal marked gluten-free, please share the information below with the manager. A pdf of the letter is available here.

Dear restaurant manager,

It has come to our attention that your restaurant is using certain sauces, including shoyu soy sauce and representing these sauces as gluten-free to your patrons. 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. 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).”  This is true regardless of any statement on the product label that the wheat has been processed to allow it to meet the requirements of the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule. See

FDA has further 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.”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.” See

If you have any questions, please contact me

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD

Founder, Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC

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Comments (7)

  • Bret Maverick Reply

    There is 1 brand that is 100% NO WHEAT for their sauce in any of the processing or ingredients. Been using this for over a decade!

    San-J Tamari is brewed with 100% soybeans and no wheat. It displays a noticeably richer and smoother taste than regular soy sauce due to higher concentration of soy protein. Made with no artificial preservatives or additives.

    San-J Tamari is certified gluten free, kosher, vegan, and Non-GMO Project verified.

    Now Soy Sauce follows this …
    Shoyu is brewed with half soybeans and half wheat. Although it’s balanced, the taste is sharper than Tamari due to the difference in raw materials and a stronger alcoholic fermentation.

    Chemically processed from hydrolyzed vegetable protein, this type of soy sauce takes only a few days to make and has a strong, unbalanced taste and salty aftertaste, making it completely unlike Tamari and regular soy sauce.

    So, stop ordering Soy Sauce. Insist on Tamari Sauce because Asians know it’s not made with gluten. Soy Sauce is traditionally made with wheat and Tamari is only Soy.

    Soy Sauce without wheat in the processing is called Tamari Sauce instead.

    This is not an issue of asking makers of Soy Sauce to avoid wheat, it’s up to us to shop and eat with Tamari Sauce instead.

    January 15, 2020 at 9:53 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Bret, Thanks for commenting. This post is about wheat-based soy sauce used by restaurants in menu items represented as gluten-free. In the US, “soy sauce” can contain only soy. See Some Tamari can contain wheat. See Please don’t rely only on whether something is called soy sauce or tamari to determine gluten-free status.

      January 16, 2020 at 8:03 pm
      • Bret Reply

        I only commented to clarify that the traditional methods for making Soy Sauce is with wheat and without the wheat process it’s Tamari Sauce. Now, food companies will make things they way they see the bottom line, thus, they will break from tradition and make things to achieve a profit.

        If you are finding food manufactures using wheat in the Tamari Sauce, then that is more alarming by bypassing the traditional process. It speaks of companies aiming for profit vs. keeping to the traditional way.

        Is there a USDA or some reference that Soy Sauce can only contain soy, even in the fermenting process in the USA?

        For the most part, making foods on your own sure seems to be a valuable lesson in all of this. 🙂

        January 16, 2020 at 9:24 pm
        • Tricia Thompson Reply

          Hi Bret, There does not appear to be a standard of identity for soy sauce in the US.

          January 20, 2020 at 12:04 am
  • Concerned European Reply

    Stop spreading this misinformation please, every english source for soy sauce I find keeps spouting this nonsense. The product is 100% correct in their statement.

    IF you’re only celiac, then wheat based soy sauces are fine unless they add wheat after the fermentation process in order to thicken the sauce, this is easily noticed by both smell and flavour, but is furthermore often even listed on the product as “wheat flour” instead of just “wheat”.

    The claim that FDA makes isnt based in reality and a lazy approach to “gluten-free” marketing.

    However, if you’re allergic to wheat then any wheat based soysauce, will cause a reaction.

    I’ve eaten traditional soy sauce my entire life and I was diagnosed with Celiac months after I started eating solid foods. And all my checkups have been fine, and this isnt something I consume rarely, but nearly daily as part of my diet.

    I’m not 32 years old and my gut is healthy, and yet I eat these “non-gluten free” soy sauces almost daily, as I stick to traditional brands that dont use additives.

    April 7, 2021 at 9:31 am
  • Joseph Poole Reply

    Whoever heard of such specified Statement wording as: The wheat has been processed (converted to amino acids during the fermentation process) to allow this food to meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for gluten free foods., Does that even make sense? If soy sauce has wheat, a suggestion would be distillation, then the dark color would be a toxin to stay behind along with fermented gluten just like the deal with distillation of malt vinegar.

    December 1, 2022 at 3:28 pm

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