Is La Choy Soy Sauce safe for celiac?

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, choosing safe foods can be challenging. Soy sauce is a common ingredient used in many cuisines around the world. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which brands of soy sauce are safe for a gluten-free diet.

La Choy is a popular brand of soy sauce. But is La Choy soy sauce gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at La Choy soy sauce, explain how soy sauce is made, and provide vital information to help you determine if La Choy soy sauce is celiac-friendly.

What is La Choy Soy Sauce?

La Choy is an American brand of Oriental-style foods owned by Conagra Brands. The company was founded in 1922 by Ilhan New and Wally Smith in Detroit, Michigan. La Choy offers a range of Asian condiments and packaged foods, including soy sauce, teriyaki marinades, fried rice mixes, chow mein noodles, and wonton wrappers.

La Choy produces several varieties of soy sauce, including:

  • La Choy Soy Sauce (regular)
  • La Choy Less Sodium Soy Sauce
  • La Choy Garlic Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce
  • La Choy Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce
  • La Choy Stir-Fry Sauce

La Choy does not specifically market any of their products as being gluten-free. However, some varieties of La Choy soy sauce contain the label “No MSG Added.” MSG (monosodium glutamate) is an additive that some people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities aim to avoid.

How is Soy Sauce Typically Made?

Understanding the ingredients and production process for soy sauce provides important clues as to whether it could be safe for a gluten-free diet. Soy sauce originated in China over 2,000 years ago and is traditionally made through fermenting soybeans and wheat.

The main ingredients in most soy sauce include:

  • Soybeans – soybeans are the main source of proteins and oils in soy sauce.
  • Wheat – most soy sauces use wheat as a main ingredient, which adds sweetness and complexity.
  • Salt – salt is added for flavor and as a preservative.
  • Water – is mixed with the soybeans and wheat.
  • Aspergillus sojae or Aspergillus oryzae – these fungi are added to start the fermentation process.

Standard soy sauce production involves four main steps:

  1. Cleaning and soaking – the raw soybeans are washed and soaked in water overnight.
  2. Cooking – the soybeans are boiled until cooked thoroughly. Wheat is roasted until brown.
  3. Fermenting – the cooked soybeans and wheat are mixed with a fungus culture and brine solution. They ferment together for up to 6 months, which results in digestion of proteins and starches by enzymes into amino acids, sugars, and organic acids.
  4. Pasteurization and extraction – the fermented liquid is pasteurized to stop fermentation and stabilize the sauce. The liquid is pressed to extract the sauce, leaving behind the solids. Additional ingredients like sugar or preservatives may be added.

As you can see, traditional soy sauce contains wheat and requires a lengthy fermentation process. For people with celiac disease, soy sauce made this traditional way is likely to contain gluten.

Could La Choy Soy Sauce Be Gluten-Free?

While most soy sauces contain wheat and are unsafe for a gluten-free diet, some brands produce gluten-free soy sauce using alternative ingredients and methods.

Manufacturers can make gluten-free soy sauce a few different ways:

  • Using soybeans only without any wheat.
  • Replacing the wheat with gluten-free grains like rice, millet, or sorghum.
  • Using the chemical hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) instead of fermenting soybeans and grains.

La Choy does not advertise its regular soy sauce as being gluten-free. However, it is possible they may use gluten-free methods or substitute other grains for wheat in certain products. Some report that La Choy products have tested below 20 ppm for gluten.

Without explicit assurance or certification from the manufacturer, though, the only way to verify for sure if La Choy soy sauce is gluten-free would be to contact the company directly.

Checking for Gluten-Free Certification

When researching soy sauce and other processed foods, be sure to check the label for any gluten-free certification from organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

The GFCO tests products to contain less than 10 ppm of gluten. GFCO certification gives consumers assurance that products are safe for celiac and meet strict standards for gluten-free labeling.

According to the GFCO website, no La Choy products are currently GFCO certified. The GFCO maintains a public list of all certified gluten-free products.

Contacting the Manufacturer

When in doubt about the ingredients or preparation methods used for particular products, reach out to the manufacturer directly. Many companies have customer service lines and are responsive to consumer inquiries about food allergies and intolerances.

Always be sure to:

  • Specify that you or the person consuming the product has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder requiring a strict gluten-free diet.
  • Ask specifically if any gluten-containing grains (like wheat, barley, rye or oats) are used in the product.
  • Ask if the product is fermented – fermentation can introduce traces of gluten.
  • Request to know the exact ppm (parts per million) of any gluten the product tests at.

Document the name of the customer service representative you spoke with and the date. Save emails or written information for future reference. Contacting the manufacturer directly is the only foolproof way to confirm if a product that is not certified gluten-free is safe for celiac.

Are Other Soy Sauces Gluten-Free?

While La Choy may not offer any certified gluten-free soy sauces at this time, there are other brands that do. Here are some well-known soy sauce brands that produce gluten-free varieties:


San-J is a popular gluten-free brand. They offer organic tamari and liquid aminos that are wheat-free and GFCO certified. San-J tamari is brewed for a full 6 months for robust flavor.


Kikkoman has several gluten-free friendly soy sauces. These include Kikkoman Soy Sauce (green label), Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, and Kikkoman Gluten-Free Soy Sauce. The gluten-free version is made with soybeans and rice.

La Choy’s Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternative

La Choy does offer one variety that is labelled gluten-free – La Choy Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce. This can be used as a 1:1 substitute for regular or low sodium soy sauce in recipes.

However, it’s important to note that teriyaki sauce has a sweeter flavor profile compared to standard soy sauce due to added sugar. The thick consistency is also different from regular soy sauce. So while this La Choy product is gluten-free, it may not provide the exact same flavor.


Another option is tamari – a type of soy sauce originally derived as a byproduct of miso paste. Tamari is wheat-free by definition and typically gluten-free as well. Leading brands like San-J certify their tamari as gluten-free.

Tamari has a bolder, more umami flavor compared to regular soy sauce. It can be used as a substitute in many recipes, although the taste may be slightly different.

Other Gluten-Free Substitutes for Soy Sauce

In addition to gluten-free soy sauces and tamari, there are other alternatives you can use to mimic the salty, umami flavor of soy sauce.

Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos are made by fermenting the sap from coconut palms. They have a mild sweetness and salty-savory flavor. Coconut aminos have a consistency close to soy sauce.

Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos are made from non-GMO soybeans without wheat. They are simmered with salt and caramel color added. Liquid aminos offer the closest flavor to regular soy sauce. Eden Foods and La Choy both make liquid aminos.

Worcestershire Sauce

Gluten-free Worcestershire sauces like Wizard’s are fermented from vinegar, molasses, and tamarind. They provide much of the salty, tangy flavor of soy sauce. Use in marinades or stir-fries.

Bragg Liquid Aminos

Bragg Liquid Aminos is a gluten-free seasoning made from non-GMO soybeans. It has a milder flavor compared to soy sauce, with 16% less sodium. Bragg’s is Allergen Control Group certified gluten-free.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies, salt, and water. It provides an intense umami flavor to replace soy sauce in Southeast Asian dishes. Red Boat Fish Sauce is gluten-free.

Is Soy Sauce Required for a Gluten-Free Diet?

While soy sauce adds unique flavor to many Asian dishes, you can certainly follow a gluten-free diet without it. Soy sauce is not an essential nutritional or functional element of any cuisine.

The right substitutions – like tamari, liquid aminos, coconut aminos, Worcestershire sauce, or fish sauce – can provide the salty, savory taste of soy sauce without any gluten. Choose certified gluten-free products whenever possible for safety.

With the many soy-free, wheat-free seasoning options now available, avoiding soy sauce is quite manageable on a gluten-free diet. You don’t have to miss out on the foods you love!

Precautions for Soy Sauce with a Gluten Intolerance

Here are some important precautions to take around soy sauce if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

Avoid soy sauce packets

Soy sauce packets served with sushi or other takeout are unlikely to be gluten-free. Either avoid them or confirm the gluten-free status before using.

Check labels carefully

Scan ingredients lists for any sign of wheat, barley, rye or malt. Also look for the “gluten-free” label.

Look for fermented products

Avoid products using fermented soybeans, even gluten-free soy sauce. Fermentation introduces a small risk of trace gluten exposure.

Don’t taste-test

Even tiny amounts of gluten can be harmful, so never sample unfamiliar soy sauces. Only use known gluten-free brands.

Is La Choy Soy Sauce Celiac-Safe? The Verdict

Based on available information, La Choy soy sauce cannot be considered gluten-free or definitively safe for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances. Here’s a summary:

  • La Choy does not claim its regular soy sauce is gluten-free or label it “gluten-free.”
  • None of La Choy’s soy sauces are certified gluten-free by organizations like the GFCO.
  • La Choy likely produces its soy sauce traditionally, using wheat and fermentation, based on their history and lack of advertised specialty methods.
  • Some report La Choy soy sauce tests below 20 ppm gluten, but this is not confirmed or verified by the company.
  • Without explicit assurance of being gluten-free from the manufacturer, La Choy soy sauce cannot be considered celiac-safe.

The only way to verify the gluten content of La Choy soy sauce would be through third-party lab testing or directly contacting the manufacturer. Since there are many clearly labeled, certified gluten-free soy sauce alternatives available, your safest bet is to choose those instead.

Although La Choy soy sauce is likely not gluten-free, several comparable brands and substitutes are. With so many options, living gluten-free does not mean you have to avoid the flavors you love. By choosing certified gluten-free tamari, liquid aminos, and coconut aminos, you can still enjoy all your favorite Asian recipes.

The Takeaway on La Choy Soy Sauce

When you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, your health depends on scrupulous label reading and using only reliably gluten-free products. While some report La Choy soy sauce may be below 20 ppm for gluten, the brand does not advertise or label their products gluten-free.

Without assurance or certification from the manufacturer, La Choy soy sauce should be avoided. Thankfully, there are many clearly labeled gluten-free alternatives, like San-J tamari and Kikkoman’s gluten-free soy sauce. With an abundance of flavorful options, living gluten-free is achievable and exciting!

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