If you're a fan of soy sauced infused Asian food, things may have just gotten a bit more complicated ... if you're living in the UAE.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) warned against the importation of the Japanese-made Kikkoman soy sauce after laboratory tests revealed it contains alcohol.
The decision came after a specialized accredited laboratory took several samples of the product - which were made in Japan with varying production dates - and ran tests which displayed alcohol levels in it, something which goes against the law in the UAE, according to The National.
After the ministry was notified, it urged consumers to get rid of any Japanese-made Kikkoman products they may have purchased. It also informed the public that strict measures have always been taken to ensure safe food consumption, including continuous testing.
"The ministry works in continued coordination with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of all imported and traded food products," the ministry said in a statement, according to Khaleej Times.
Kikkoman products produced in countries other than Japan - United States, Netherlands, China, Canada, Singapore and Taiwan - were not of concern.
The Japanese-made Kikkoman soy sauce contains approximately 1.5 percent to 2 percent alcohol by volume.
The ministry banned the product in line with the UAE's Ministerial Resolution No. 539 of 2012, which is part of the 'Standard Guide to the Procedures for the Prohibition of Handling and Banning of Food.'
The news left several chefs in the country in a state of surprise.
"This is a big surprise as Kikkomen is the best soy sauce on the market," Andre Raspin, manager of Prax's Restaurant in Barsha Heights, told The National.
"The government is very strict on its laws and regulations, as we know with Halal meat, so it is surprising this has only been discovered now. We don’t use it in cooking, but we have big bottles and offer it to our customers in small containers," Raspin added.
Alcohol in the UAE
Alcohol is readily available at restaurants, bars and clubs inside hotels throughout the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
However, technically speaking, residents of the UAE are required to have a liquor license to purchase and consume alcohol. However, it is not routine for bars and restaurants to check.
The strictness of liquor laws varies between emirates. Sharjah strictly prohibits the sale of liquor completely, whereas Ajman is more lax in its regulations.
Only certain stores in the UAE sell alcoholic beverages and these require purchasers to show their liquor license. Only non-Muslims are technically allowed to obtain a liquor license and consume alcohol.