Soy Allergy

Soybeans are part of the legume family, which also encompasses fresh and dried peas, beans, carob, licorice, and peanuts. If you experience an allergic reaction to one member of the legume family, like soy, there’s a possibility that you might also react to another member, such as peas, beans, or lentils.

This phenomenon is referred to as “cross-reactivity,” where the proteins in one legume resemble those in another. While this occurrence isn’t very common, it’s advisable to have a conversation about it with your doctor or allergy specialist.

Types of Soy Allergy

There are two distinct categories of soy allergies: immediate IgE-mediated (which can be primary or secondary due to pollen food syndrome) and delayed Non-IgE-mediated. While soy allergies are less prevalent in the UK when compared to other allergens like nuts, milk, eggs, and fish, it’s important to seek guidance from your GP if you suspect you might be allergic to soy to determine the specific type of allergy you have and devise an effective management plan.

What are the symptoms of soy allergy?

Immediate Soy Allergy

Mild to moderate soy allergy reactions may encompass:

  • Development of a raised, red rash, also known as hives or urticaria, appearing anywhere on the body
  • Sensations of tingling or itchiness in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, face, or eyes
  • Experiencing stomach pain or vomiting

It’s worth noting that the majority of individuals with a soy allergy tend to have mild symptoms, and only on very rare occasions, symptoms can become more severe.

Delayed Soy Allergy

Delayed soy allergies typically affect the digestive system, leading to soy allergy symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea (which may include bloody stools)
  • Vomiting
  • Acid reflux
  • Colic

In certain cases, individuals may also experience atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, which could be indicative of a delayed soy allergy.

What is the treatment for soy allergy?

Immediate Soy Allergy

If you experience mild allergic symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe antihistamine medication. Since this form of allergy less commonly triggers anaphylaxis, there may be no requirement to carry adrenaline autoinjectors.

Delayed Soy Allergy

The primary approach to managing delayed soy allergies is to steer clear of soy products. If you happen to have eczema, your healthcare provider may prescribe specific treatments to address this condition.

What food to avoid if you have a soy allergy?

Once you’ve received a diagnosis of soy allergy, it’s essential to steer clear of soy and soy-containing foods. When shopping, make it a habit to meticulously inspect both the ingredient list and food allergen labelling on food packaging.

Soy is classified as one of the top 14 major food allergens in the UK, mandating its clear and bold inclusion on ingredients labels. Keep in mind that manufacturers frequently alter their recipes, so reading labels each time you make a purchase is crucial.

Restaurants, cafes, hotels, takeaways, and other foodservice establishments are legally obligated to provide information regarding major allergens, including soy. Don’t hesitate to inquire directly with the staff about the presence of soy in the food you intend to order, ask if there is a risk of cross-contamination and emphasise that even small quantities of soy can trigger an allergic reaction.

Which food contains soy?

Baby/infant foods | Bread | Breakfast cereals | Cakes and biscuits (confectionery with a biscuit base) | Cheese substitutes (including soy cheese) | Canned and tinned soup | Chinese foods | Chocolates (especially those with cream centres) | Commercial fruit products Crackers | Crisps | Dessert mixes | Edamame beans and Soy beans | Flavoured crisps | Frozen dessert | Ice cream | Liquid meal replacers | Margarine | Meat products: cold cuts, beef burgers, meat paste/pies, minced beef, sausages, and hotdogs | Milk (coffee whiteners) or cream replacers | Soy milk | Pancake and waffle mixes | Pasta/pizza bases | Ready – meals (convenience meals) | Sauces (including Soya sauce (Soy sauce), Worcester sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Teriyaki sauce, stock cubes, gravy powders and some cook-in sauces) | Seasoned salt | Snack bars | Soups (canned or packet) | Soy flour | Soy fibre | Sandwich spread/mayonnaise/salad creams | Tofu (Soybean curd) |Vegetable products / vegetarian meals | Vegetable protein | Lecithin (E322) | Soya Oil (soybean oil) although fully refined soy oil is very unlikely to cause allergic reactions | Medications (Always inquire with your pharmacist regarding the presence of soy as an ingredient in medicines.)

To find out more about soy allergy download the Allergy UK Soy Allergy Fact Sheet PDF.

How can we help at Children’s Allergy Doctors?

At Children’s Allergy Doctors, we offer a comprehensive array of allergy services for various allergy-related conditions. Our commitment is to accompany you through every stage of your journey, from the initial allergy diagnosis to assisting you with the management of food allergies and beyond.

We provide a food allergy desensitisation program known as Soy OIT (Oral Immunotherapy). This program is specifically designed to gradually introduce increasing quantities of soy to your child. The primary objective of this treatment is to reduce the likelihood of accidental allergic reactions to soy. It’s important to note that this treatment does not serve as a complete cure for soy allergies, but will protect the child from accidental exposures to soy and reduce severity of reactions.

During the program, both you and your child will receive counselling and attend scheduled clinic appointments led by a consultant. The assessment of your child’s suitability for Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) will be seamlessly incorporated into their regular appointments, usually when their allergy diagnosis is initially established.

If your child is deemed eligible for OIT (Oral Immunotherapy) and you’d like to proceed with this treatment, we will develop a personalised treatment plan. This plan typically consists of 8-14 visits, starting with an initial visit during which the first allergen dose will be administered.

If you would like to find out more about soy allergy or any other aspect of children’s allergies, or book an appointment, please contact our practice team on 0203 146 7721 or email