Soy Sauce contains a chemical that may cause cancer, according to a food regulator.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the governmental body responsible for developing food standards for Australia and New Zealand, says that ethyl carbamate (EC) is found in many common foods including soy sauce.
The agency also says that EC can occur naturally in foods including breads, yoghurt and alcohol that undergo fermentation during processing or storage.
It referred to the findings of a study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer last year, which upgraded the risk of EC from "possibly'' carcinogenic to humans to "probably'' carcinogenic.
"This knowledge suggests that limiting the consumption of some foods and responsible drinking will reduce EC intake, which would appear advisable in the light of emerging international knowledge about the chemical,'' news.com.au quoted FSANZ as saying.
The regulator, however, says that this chemical is not as big a problem in Australia as in some other countries.
It revealed that in last year's study, food and alcohol sourced from Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia were tested for their EC levels so as to estimate dietary exposure and potential risk to Australians' health.
The regulator said that of the 225 food samples tested, the chemical was found only in soy sauce.
"Very low levels'' were found in 13 of the 30 types of alcoholic beverages tested, with sake, sherry and port returning the highest readings. When compared to overseas studies, EC levels in Australia were lower than those reported in Danish and UK surveys,'' FSANZ said.
"The risk to health and safety for Australians from exposure to EC through consumption of food is therefore considered to be negligible. The risk to health and safety for Australians from exposure to EC through alcoholic drinks, other than sake, is negligible, even for high consumers,'' the regulator added.
FSANZ, however, suggested that drinkers stick to government guidelines on recommended alcohol consumption to minimise health risks.