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Surprising Non-Food Soybean Products

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Updated November 18, 2011

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Soybeans

One little bean, so many uses.

C Squared Studios/Getty Images

Soybean products aren't limited to tofu anymore. Soy products are powering city buses, insulating buildings, and even filling stuffed animals. Many products marketed as “green” or “eco-friendly” use soy-based alternatives to petroleum products. There are even new plastics made from soy.

If you have a soy allergy, could you be allergic to these products? Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research done on link between food allergies and non-food products, and the research on soybean oil has had conflicting results. Some people may get rashes or hives by touching a food allergen (contact dermatitis), others may be fine unless they actually eat the allergen.

Some of these products may be so processed that the soy proteins are broken down and no longer allergenic. However, there is no way to predict the allergic potential of a product before use. Always check the ingredients of cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, or anything else that you will be putting on your skin. Don’t allow soy-allergic young children who put things in their mouths to play with soy-based crayons or modeling dough.

Around the home

  • Artificial fire logs
  • Candles
  • Carpet backing
  • Cleaning products
  • Inks and Toners
  • Pet food
  • Synthetic fabrics
  • Crib mattresses

In the medicine cabinet

  • Cosmetics
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Medications, vitamins, and supplements

In the toybox

  • Crayons
  • Modeling dough
  • Puzzles, games, or board books printed with soy-based inks
  • Stuffed animal filling

Industrial, auto, and building supplies

  • Diesel additives
  • Engine oils and lubricants
  • Fertilizer
  • Flexible foam used in furniture padding
  • Insecticides and fungicides
  • Plastics
  • Solvents: paint stripper, graffiti remover
  • Soy biodiesel
  • Spray foam insulation
  • Stains and sealers
  • Waxes

Soy Products in Food

See our list of Soy Ingredients in Food for alternate names for soy and foods to avoid when on a soy-free diet.

Sources:

Awazuhara, Kawai, Baba, Matsui, Komiyama. Antigenicity of the proteins in soy lecithin and soy oil in soybean allergy. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. Volume 28, Issue 12, pages 1559–1564, December 1998

Gu X, Beardslee T, Zeece M, Sarath G, Markwell J. Identification of IgE-binding proteins in soy lecithin. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2001 Nov;126(3):218-25.

Levin, Cheryl; Erin Warshaw. Protein Contact Dermatitis: Allergens, Pathogenesis, and Management. Dermatitis. 2008;19(5):241-251.

Mills, E. N., et al. Impact of Food Processing on the Structural and Allergenic Properties of Food Allergens. Mol Nutr Food Res 53.8 (2009): 963-9.

Oppenheim, Stephanie. Trends from Toyland: Soy Fiber in Toys. Stephanie Oppenheim on Toys. Accessed 10/3/2020. http://stephanieoppenheim.com/2008/02/trends-from-toyland-soy-fiber-in-toys/

United Soybean Board. Consumer Products Guide. Accessed 10/3/2010 http://soynewuses.org/soy-products-guide/

Wood, Robert. Food Allergens in Non-Food Items. Accessed 10/2/2010 http://drrobertwood.com/allergens-in-nonfood-items.shtml

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