Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Ashley and I recently traveled to Scotland and England. As always, going to a new place can be challenging with a food intolerance. To see what kinds of foods contain soy in the UK we followed our strategy and we went to the grocery store. Here is what we learned:
- Soybean oil isn't a problem for eating soy-free in the UK because it doesn't seem to exist. At the grocery store, the "vegetable oil" being sold is actually canola oil (also called rapeseed oil). It is also possible to buy olive oil and sunflower oil, but soybean oil is nowhere to be found. This also means that restaurants do not typically cook with soybean oil since it cannot be purchased at the grocery store! Bring on the fries (er, chips)!!
- Since soybean oil isn't an issue, foods that are usually a problem because of soybean oil in the US are safe to eat in the UK! Things like tuna, mayonnaise, cookies, and crackers are all soy-free. If they do contain oil, they use canola oil. The use of oil in general wasn't as prevalent in the UK as it is in the US. For example, tuna fish in the UK didn't have any oil. Recognizable brands even use different ingredients in the UK. The pictures below of are Ritz crackers. The one on the left is in the UK, the one on the right is in the US. Note the lack of soybean oil in the UK!
- Chocolate in the UK does usually contain soy lecithin. This is true everywhere we've traveled, unfortunately. However, just like at home, we were able to find some chocolate that was soy-free.
- Our most shocking discovery was that almost all bread in the UK contains soy flour. We checked every brand of pre-packaged bread (think sandwich bread, rolls, pastries, etc.) and almost every single one contained soy flour. This was so strange! Since soy was incredibly absent from all other foods, it is hard to understand why soy flour is in all the bread. We were able to finally find a loaf of soy-free bread, but only after a long period of searching.
- We aren't sure if the fresh baked bread contained soy. Allergen labeling in the UK is pretty good (bolded in the ingredient list most often), but the fresh bread often said "ask a member of our bakery staff for allergen information" and often didn't even contain an ingredient list. We never did ask about the fresh bread ingredients, but we expect that it is probably okay (just like in the US).
In summary, eating soy-free in the UK was easier than in the US. More foods are soy-free since soybean oil is notably absent from food, but pre-packaged bread was a surprising issue that we didn't expect.