If you’re going to consume any soy product, including soy sauce, fermented soy “is the only soy food fit for human consumption”.
In an excellent research paper, Soy Alert — Tragedy and Hype, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, PhD, explain that the soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty from 1122 to 221 BC; notable for the rise of Confucianism and Taoism.
They claim the first soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce. “At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BC, Chinese scientists discovered that a puree of cooked soybeans could be precipitated with calcium sulphate or magnesium sulphate to make a smooth, pale curd — tofu or bean curd. The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia.
According to a paper written in THE JAPAN FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER, Shπyu:The Flavor of Japan, records of the Dutch East India Company list soy sauce as a commodity in 1737, when seventy-five large barrels were shipped from Dejima, Japan, to Batavia (present-day Jakarta) on the island of Java. Thirty-five barrels from that shipment were then shipped to the Netherlands.
Soy sauce is widely used in Japan, Thai, Korea, and China. While Chinese soy sauce is primarily made from soybeans, most Japanese soy sauces use wheat as a chief ingredient.
Soy sauce is made by two distinct methods: the traditional brewing method — fermentation — which produces high quality soy sauce like Ohsawa Organic Nama Shoyu Unpasteurized Soy Sauce, aged for 4 years in cedar kegs, and the fast, cheap method made in three days involving acid-hydrolyzed vegetable protein soy which produces the gimcrack garbage available at Costco.
It is this accelerated production used to produce soy sauce — by artificially breaking down the soy proteins with the chemical process known as hydrolysis — that is responsible for the lethal chemical contaminant known as 3-MCPD.
The Carcinogen 3-MCPD in Soy Sauce
The UK-based Institute of Food Science & Technology claims 3-MCPD is classified as a genotoxic (damaging to DNA) and carcinogen. 3-MCPD is a chemical byproduct formed in foods, and is the most commonly found member of chemical contaminants known as chloropropanols. 3-MCPD is produced as a contaminant by-product of acid-hydrolysed vegetable protein (acid-HVP) which is constituted when fat-containing foods are exposed to high temperatures during production.
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is an MSG-like flavor enhancer that is mixed in with other spices, and added to thousands of processed foods, including chips, dip mixes, salad dressings, sauces, hotdogs, soups, frozen dinners, bouillons, gravy mixes, snacks, and ready-to-eat foods.
3-MCPD has male anti-fertility effects, causes cancer in laboratory animals when fed in large amounts over their lifetime, and cumulative amounts may present a very real cancer risk in humans.
In 2001 the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency found in tests of various oyster sauces and soy sauces that nearly one in four samples contained 3-MCPD levels considerably higher than those deemed safe by the European Union. About two-thirds of these samples also contained a second chloropropanol called 1,3-DCP, a far more harmful chemical which is banned from all food because it is toxic to genes, as well as being carcinogenic.
Virtually all the brands tested were imported from Thailand, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and carried the brand names Golden Mountain, King Imperial, Pearl River Bridge, Jammy Chai, Golden Mark, Kimlan, Lee Kum Kee, Tung Chun, Sinsin and Golden Swan. Golden Mountain contained close to 5,000 times the acceptable daily intake of 3-MCPD levels.