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What is ubiquitous and rhymes with toy? A highly common allergen goes by the name of soy. Think beyond tofu and soymilk, this frontrunner among food allergens lurks in far more than you might realize.

Not Just for Kids

Though most soy allergies begin in infancy and are often outgrown, some may continue into adulthood. What might be mistaken for colic leads many parents to discover that their baby is allergic to the soy protein found in infant formula. Sometimes this allergy phases out by around age 10. However, for those who do retain a soy allergy as adults, symptoms can range from mere annoyances to full-blown anaphylaxis.

• Itchy, scaly skin
• Hives
• Tingling in the mouth
• Swelling in the face, including the lips, tongue, or throat
• Runny nose
• Difficulty breathing
• Wheezing
• Abdominal pain
• Diarrhea
• Nausea and/or vomiting

Symptoms may occur anywhere from a minutes to a few hours after consuming soy products.

Testing and Diagnosis

If you suspect that you or your child suffers from a soy allergy, discuss this with your pediatrician or family doctor immediately. Your physician can perform a skin prick or blood test.

With the skin prick test, small amount of the protein found in soy is deposited at the site of the prick. The development of a hive equals a soy allergy. Blood tests search for antibodies produced by the immune system in response to soy.

Uncovering the Source

Soy hides in an unbelievable amount of foods and beverages. It can be hard to discern as it dwells within words like soybean oil or soy lecithin. However, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that any product containing soy be clearly labeled.

Here are some places soy tries to hide.

• Baked goods
• Canned meat, including tuna
• Canned soup
• Cereal
• Chocolate
• Crackers
• Deli meat
• Energy and protein bars
• Fruit drink mixes
• Hot chocolate drink mixes
• Imitation bacon bits
• Malt beverages
• Non-dairy creamer
• Protein shakes
• Salad dressing
• Vegetable broth, vegetable gum, vegetable oil, vegetable patties and vegetable starch
• Worcestershire sauce

Of course, there are the more obvious sources, including soy sauce, soymilk, tofu, miso, tempeh and edamame. But it also creeps in under the guise of glycine max, hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein, mono-diglyceride and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

When dealing with food allergens, it is always best to play it safe. Talk to your allergist before experimenting with new foods in your daily diet.