Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Gluten Free Oyster Sauce Revisited

I've removed previous posts on the subject because quite frankly there's a huge (insert expletives) problem. I've had to switch numerous brands over the years because retailers discontinue them and it's a staple ingredient for me. I discovered Maekrua Oyster Sauce via my OH who went to a local Oriental shop trying to source some as our previous brand was no longer available.

Intending go back and buy the next day if it was safe he gave me the details and I researched online (as I do with anything questionable). I ended up on the Maekrua site and found the ingredients See here. Safe! No gluten ingredients. Had it been any other site than the actual brand I would have definitely investigated further.

Oyster Extract
Soy Bean
Corn Starch

I've been using this oyster sauce for at least 3 months on a regular basis without any reactions.

Today I got an email that there was a comment on the Maekrua post (comments show up in blogger much later) asking how I knew it was gluten free. I'd totally forgotten about visiting the Maekrua site so I started questioning, how did I know?

I used google translate for the ingredients which are in German and to say I was horrified is an understatement. The fifth ingredient is WHEAT FLOUR.

So I went back to the Maekrua site and added up the percentages, it comes to 99.9% maybe the 00.1% was the wheat flour? Maybe that's why I'm not getting a reaction? But why didn't they include it on the ingredients list? And if they were using corn starch why would they need to use wheat flour too? If it was to thicken the sauce the corn starch would have been more than sufficient.

Then I discovered this site where they list wheat flour as being 7.41% of the overall ingredients.

Oyster extract 30% (water 18%, oyster 12%), Sugar 22.51%, Salt 19%, Soy Bean 18%, Wheat Flour 7.41%, Corn Starch 3%. Preservatives: Sodium Benzoale (E 211) 0.08%.


None of this makes sense.

Same product, different ingredients. Turns out that every other site that sells the stuff cites wheat as being an ingredient, the brand website who actually make the stuff  NO MENTION OF WHEAT! Despite providing a percentage breakdown of ingredients.

I would have never blogged about it but the fact that the ingredients listed on the brand website are safe and I'd been using it constantly without ANY consequences, as far as I was concerned, it was definitely gluten free. I'm the girl who was glutened for months by a gluten free product. I'm very, very sensitive.

I can't find an email address so I don't really know how to get to the bottom of this but suffice to say I'm immensely annoyed. Sincere apologies for the humongous mistake :(

I will get to the bottom of this.

Thank you to the person who commented.

EDIT: I have since found an email address and have contacted them. Will update as soon as I hear anything back.


  1. Hi there

    Just thought you'd like to know that at a GF food fair last November, I met the lovely people from Sweet Mandarin Sauces ( who told me they were developing a GF oyster sauce. I just emailed them again about this and they told me:

    "We are working on oyster sauce which will be launching later on this year"

    Not that specific but in the grand scheme of things it has to be good news. I've tried the sweet chili and barbeque sauces they do, and they are great - particularly the former.


  2. Good to know, thanks Will.

  3. "I'd been using it constantly without ANY consequences, as far as I was concerned, it was definitely gluten free. I'm the girl who was glutened for months by a gluten free product. I'm very, very sensitive."

    Perhaps you should take this to be evidence that you, and 99% of people who claim to have a gluten allergy, actually don't have an allergy at all. In fact, gluten allergy is really a misnomer in that it's not an allergy and, in the huge majority of cases, it's not even gluten that is the problem.

    The wave of people who claim to be allergic to gluten are basically jumping upon a bandwagon based on the fact they can have digestion problems. These problems are easily rectified by eating a healthier diet - not a gluten free one.

    In rare cases people can be allergic to wheat (I know someone who actually is - and several who claim to be but just need to eat more healthy food as part of a more balanced diet), but the symptons are not what "gluten allergy" sufferers think they are.

    "Gluten Free" is a con which many people have fallen for.

  4. I think I've left it long enough to write a sensible reply.

    "I'd been using it constantly without ANY consequences, as far as I was concerned, it was definitely gluten free. I'm the girl who was glutened for months by a gluten free product. I'm very, very sensitive."

    That refers to the fact that 'gluten free' products are legally allowed to have some (<20ppm) gluten in them. My reaction was due to that, I can't eat all 'gluten free' foods due to varying levels.

    I also do not refer to my gluten issue as an allergy, I consider it to be an intolerance.

    You don't have an issue with gluten, good for you, but I do and so do many others. I would happily give you my issue for a day and you could eat all the gluten you liked, you would not be making such ridiculous statements afterwards, trust me.

  5. Dear Anonymous, Cowards make grand statements about other people's problems (of which they know nothing), throw in massive fake percentages, and then sign the comments as "anonymous." Seeing family members suffer for years, before diagnosing this problem, is something you don't want to experience. Travel in the United Kingdom for a while and look at the food served in pubs/restaurants and the racial/genetic origins of this condition can be seen as the driving force behind an array of GF foods that have been served for many years, due to the local needs. Do you even know what a "con" is?

  6. I got celiac for 3 years now. Started as gluten allergy where i get lots of rashes but things are just getting worse to a point I have trouble breathing, rapid palpitations, nosebleed and vertigo among other things. Though i eat food with gluten once in a while (cravings-i know its bad), my main diet is consist of steamed rice, pan fried or grilled meat (salt and pepper always) and veggies. And to spice things up a bit, i buy gluten free sauces to which im very wary of the brands i use. One Spanish brand i use says its gluten free (and it really is gluten free i guess, coz i dont get any reactions). Then again every once in a while whenever i get a fresh bottle it gives me a heavy feeling again so i throw it out. What i do now is i take note of the production number of the brand as well and if i dont get any reaction after i use it, i go to the shop and buy more.

    My point is, condiments that says its gluten free are most likely to be contaminated every once in a while (factory handling), or if it does still contain wheat, it is in small amounts to which your body can take.

    Oh and for ANONYMOUS, i hope u dont mind if i react on ur comment: I follow a strict regimen when it comes to my diet but i do get tired of it sometimes. Following a two-week gluten free diet id see myself eating a big fat with oh so lots of gluten burger and hay ho, the only reaction i get is a smelly diarrhea (oops, sorry). My doctor says if i follow my diet, my inflammation eventually subsides, not healed but more improved. And if i start eating with gluten again, it goes back to square 1 til it gets worse if not prevented. Thats is what gluten does to us. Reactions vary according to the food you eat. I can eat pasta and get diarrhea one day and eat a flour-coated fried chicken the next and il have vertigo. Its all in the body chemistry at the end of the day. Not all people are created the same.

    Just saying :)


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