Synthetic soy sauce made from chemicals on the Chinese mainland is being sold on the Hong Kong market, industry insiders claim.
Mainland producers have developed a way of synthesizing the sauce with seven condiments and chemicals, the Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily News reported on Tuesday.
Soy sauce is supposed to be made by fermenting soybeans with molds, salt and water for at least three months. The synthetic sauce was being flown into Hong Kong, insiders told the newspaper.
By mixing sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, yeast extracts, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, inosinic acid and guanylic acid, the mainland producers can manufacture soy sauce quicker.
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein could morph into dangerous chemicals that cause testicular cancer, said Michael H W Lam, an associate professor of biochemistry at the City University of Hong Kong who verified the formula’s feasibility.
The synthetic sauce is similar to its fermented counterpart for its appealing flavor and sticky texture, according to the report, but does not share its pungent odor.
“The only way to distinguish synthetic soy sauce is to conduct a DNA test, checking whether it contains soybean ingredients,” Lam said.
“These counterfeit products exist due to cheapness and lack of supervision, but customers don’t need to panic,” Fan Zhihong, a professor of food safety at China Agricultural University in Beijing, told the Global Times.
“Buy branded products labeled ‘fermented’ and avoid the cheap stuff.”