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Kikkoman claims soy sauce is gluten-free

I was in Miami in April and ate at the famous Nobu Japanese restaurant. I told the waiter about my intolerance to gluten, and therefore my inability to eat soy sauce, as it contains wheat. He replied, “We have something for people like you,” and produced a letter from Kikkoman soy sauce company that said, in a nutshell, that there are no wheat or soy proteins in their soy sauce that could cause allergic reactions. I sat there, stunned / confused / excited – could it be true? If so, why have I been avoiding soy sauce and therefore Asian restaurants in general for the last 5 years?? Could I actually eat family style with my gluten-eating friends? At that moment I had a decision to make – eat the appetizers my friends had ordered, or eat my own sushi with my wheat-free soy sauce I had stashed in my purse. What would YOU do?

Well, I decided to do it – eat the appetizers, I mean! I ate a few pieces of saucy fish and some salad with a soy sauce dressing. A few minutes later, I had an intense itching in my throat, which I used to have all the time before going gluten-free and which I get sometimes with seasonal allergies. Was this my reaction to the small amount of soy sauce I had consumed? I stopped sharing right then and there and pulled out my soy sauce stash. I felt like a deflated balloon.

Once home I decided that I needed to get to the bottom of this Kikkoman claim, so I sent an email inquiry. Here is the letter that they sent to me (note that it is dated February 4, 2005): kikkomangluten_statement_2_4_05.pdf. I don’t think I will be using the Lazy Susan in any Chinese restaurants anytime soon, but decide for yourself!

UPDATE 1/27/11: Kikkoman has created a new gluten-free soy sauce with rice instead of wheat!

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