Note: This is an awareness campaign initiated by PenangYouth.com and supported by YourFoodReview.com in spreading the information and educating consumer on extra cautiousness.
Although it was found almost a decade ago that some brands of soy sauce, together with its related products such as the oyster sauce, mushroom sauce, hoisin sauce and chicken marinade, which are mainly used in some Asian dishes, contained high level of cancer causing chemicals. Two such chemicals from a chemical group known as chloropropanols were found in the products. They are 3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol or 3-chloro-1,2-propanediol) and 1,3-DCP (1,3-Dichloropropene or also known as Telone). Through painstaking tests carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over the past few months, it was found that some of the brands imported from Thailand, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, contained a higher level of the chemicals compared to the minimum of 0.02 mg per kg as set by the European Union (EU).
The presence of both the chemicals in soy sauce is avoidable if they are based on the traditional methods of fermenting the soy beans in salt and water with some culturing help from added micro organisms and yeasts. These fermented beans would then be pressed to extract the juice within which would eventually become raw soy sauce. The raw soy sauce would then go through pasteurization to eliminate any active micro organisms and yeasts through a certain high temperature, filtered, before being bottled to be sold on the market. The whole process would take months to years as only would this process produce the unique saltiness and sweetness from the soy sauce.
Somehow, some manufacturers are looking at making fast bucks by producing the soy sauce through a hydrolysed vegetable protein formula to accelerate the productions. The whole process might take up to 3 days, saving at least 99% of the time frame if they were to use the traditional culturing method. This might be the fastest and cheapest way to produce soy sauce but it might result in the existence of carcinogens, cancer causing agents, such as 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP. Although it was stressed by FSA that occasional consumers were unlikely to be harmed, but it would be health hazardous for those high intake consumers.
Of the samples taken in a survey of 100 soy sauce products sold off the shelves, at least 25% were found be positive for 3-MCPD and two thirds of these had traces of 1,3-DCP. 3-MCPD is an organic chemical compound which is carcinogenic and highly suspected to be genotoxic in humans, thus having male anti-fertility effects. 1,3-DCP on the other hand, is a colorless liquid with a sweet smell, usually used as a compound in a pesticide. A long exposure through contact or inhalation might result in skin irritations, nauseousness, headaches, breathing difficulties and more.
Do not get me wrong on other soy products other than those chemically processed ones. They are in fact great for health such as substituting protein from meat. Soy beans are believed to contain certain anti-cancer properties against the most common types of cancer such as lung, rectal, colon, stomach, prostate and breast. To have a better health, do try to stay away from any processed products if possible. On top of soy sauce, by products such as instant noodles, salted eggs, salted vegetables, canned meats, canned desserts and more, would contain certain chemicals within its preservatives that would do more harm than good to your body. Try to apply more fresh or organic items in your marinate and cooking. After all, you are what you eat and you can’t run away from all the unwanted substances that you had put into your body.I'm thirsty for a drink now. Would you be kind enough to treat me?