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Heated Debate Emerges as Research Calls into Question Amount of Corn Used in Soy Sauce

05/09/2018 - 13h00

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FLÁVIA G PINHO
MARÍLIA MIRAGAIA

Passions started to run high almost immediately after a study was released at the end of last month by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP). "Most soy sauce producers in Brazil take out a portion of the soybeans and add corn during production," said Luiz Antônio Martinelli, an agronomist at USP.

The study, which was published in a magazine managed by Fapesp - a foundation that offers financial support for research - stated that of the 70 samples analyzed, soybeans consisted of more than 50% of the ingredients in only 10 of them. The information has raised questions among chefs, experts and consumers regarding the authenticity, flavor and regulations of Brazil's soy sauce.

The condiment - which is a sauce made from fermented soybeans - is essential to Japanese cuisine. It is one of Japan's five basic seasonings along with miso, rice vinegar, salt and sugar. "You can't imagine Japanese recipes without it. It is one of the most common dressings," said Telma Shiraishi, a chef at Aizomê, a Japanese restaurant.

Company Sakura - which, according to Nielsen, controls 54% of the domestic soy sauce market - has said that, due to the difficulty in obtaining wheat (which is added to the soybeans during production), it occurred to them to use corn, which is useful in the fermentation process.

According to the cultural department at the Consulate General of Japan in São Paulo, the ingredients used to make soy sauce are: soybeans and grains such as wheat and rice, which are subjected to fermentation.

According to the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), using corn as an ingredient to produce soy sauce is not illegal.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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