Is Worcestershire sauce bad for you? (Complete analysis)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is Worcestershire sauce bad for you? We will discuss the health risks of consuming Worcestershire sauce on a daily basis and analyze the level of sugar, sodium, and colorants in this English sauce. 

Is Worcestershire sauce bad for you?

Worcestershire sauce is bad for you if consumed in excess. A complex bouquet of ingredients allows Worcestershire sauce to blend perfectly with a variety of foods. The seasoning is most often used for ready-made meat dishes: pork and chicken cutlets, beef tenderloin, kebab, pork chop. 

However, Worcestershire sauce is very high in sodium and sugar, so make sure you consume it in moderation. 

Excessive consumption of sodium has been associated with negative health effects, the most alarming being elevated blood pressure. The prevalence of hypertension (blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mm Hg) exceeds 40% in most European countries (1).

In addition, according to a study, if ingested in massive quantities over a long period of time, it can lead to damage to the kidneys. Worcestershire sauce contains acetic acid, garlic, black pepper, and a variety of other spices and the excessive intake of these spices are linked to moderate impairment of renal functions (4).

Worcestershire sauce – how healthy is it?

The United States Department of Agriculture defines as the Commercial Item Description for Worchestershire sauce the following: The Worcestershire sauce must contain water, vinegar, salt, sweeteners, tamarinds, and molasses. The Worcestershire sauce may contain ingredients such as, but not limited to, soy sauce and/or a hydrolyzed vegetable protein, citrus fruit juice or fruit solids of lime or grapefruit, chili pepper extract, organic acids (citric), anchovies, garlic, spices, vegetables (shallots or onions), flavors (oil of lemon, lime, or grapefruit; beef extract or protein hydrolysate), and caramel color.

To establish how (un)healthy Worcestershire sauce is, let’s learn more about its nutritional values:


For every 100 milliliters (ml) it contains 15.8 grams (g) of carbohydrates, of which 15.5 g are sugars, that is, almost 16% of the product is sugar, according to informations provided by the UCLA.

For a 6 ml serving, 1 g is sugar. However, it contains 3 different types of sweeteners. Although it is fair to mention that 2 of them are of natural origin (normal sugar and brown sugar).

To be a suggested seasoning in savory preparations, the amount of sugar is high.

The portion most frequently used by consumers exceeds 6 ml. It can range from 3 to 5 servings (ranging from 18 ml to 30 ml) depending on the tastes of each consumer.


For every 100 ml, it contains 1,200 milligrams (mg) of sodium. For every 6 ml, a serving contains 80 mg of sodium.

It should be remembered that high sodium intakes have been associated with conditions such as high blood pressure or hypertension (1).

The consumption of this product in high quantities can become common and therefore represent a high sodium intake.


Contains caramel coloring IV, which has been classified as carcinogenic in the state of California, United States.


Water, vinegar, applesauce, brown sugar, sugar, iodized salt, tamarind pulp, class III caramel coloring, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, condiments, artificial flavors, maltodextrin, class IV caramel color, monosodium glutamate.

It contains 13 ingredients in total, of which 3 deserve special attention: class III caramel, class IV caramel, and monosodium glutamate.

Class III caramel is made only with sulfides, it does not have the same toxicological character as class IV candy, but it is aggressive.

Studies demonstrated that Class III caramel color induced lymphocytopenia in rats and mice when ingested at high levels (≥3%) in the diet. Additional studies, including subchronic and chronic studies, were conducted to investigate this effect and the possible underlying mechanism(s), and it was subsequently determined that 2-acetyl-4(5)-tetrahydroxybutylimidazole (THI), an imidazole component in Caramel color III, was responsible for this effect (2).

4-methylimidazole can be formed by the interaction of ammonia with reducing sugars. Since ammonia and reducing sugars are common components of foods, and roasting and heating are common in food processing, 4-MeI has been found in many foods. It can also be found in Class III and IV caramel colors and in products containing these colors such as soy sauce, wine, dark beers, soft drinks and other foods and from the production processes used in some products such as coffee, breads and baked goods (2).

The IV caramel is made with sulfides and ammonia, which when heated produce by-products called 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole (2-MI and 4-MI), which have been shown to be associated with different types of cancer. 

In the case of monosodium glutamate, it has been seen to have associations with cytotoxic effects (cell death, lymphomas, neurodegenerative changes, among others) negatively impacting different organs.

However, there is insufficient evidence provided by studies that show whether diet-added MSG could induce behavioral, biochemical, and morphological changes in structures such as cerebrum, hippocampus, and cerebellum of adult mammals (3). 

Studies based on animal models have been inconsistent regarding a relationship between MSG consumption and body weight: while some reported a negative correlation, others suggested a direct link, associating MSG intake with higher energy intake and weight gain (3).


The labeling is simple and sober, orange, black, and light brown. In the middle, there is a black oval with the name of the product in the center. The rest of the labeling is brownish orange.

On the front side, there is no nutritional information except the calorie information.

The nutritional information should be on the front as indicated by the corresponding official standard. This is important, particularly in a high sodium product as is the case. This information is on the back. However, it is extremely difficult to distinguish, even to read, because the letters are small.

Before the nutritional information, the following paragraph is observed: “this sauce has been prepared and matured with special care, carefully selecting each of the ingredients and based on our original recipe, in order to refine the flavor of your appetizers, soups, salads, meats, stews, sauces, fish, shellfish, pizzas, and cocktails ”.

We have to mention that this English type sauce is one of the “classics” since this brand was one of the first to emerge.

The legend on the subsequent labeling is primarily false. This is because Caramel IV is part of the original recipe; They are also not carefully selected ingredients, but rather common ingredients in processed consumer products. 

For consumers, it may be of greater interest due to the daily and frequent use of this type of ingredient in the different products, which generates at the end of the day considerable amounts of chemical elements that end up being incorporated into the body.

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

Can soy sauce go bad?

How long does pasta sauce last in the fridge?

Is Worcestershire a veggie sauce?

Final thoughts

English-type sauces, particularly Worcestershire sauce, are widely used in different preparations: family roast meat, roast chicken, pasta, soups, salads, sauces, seafood, cocktails, even “michelada” type drinks (a drink preparation to which Add lemon and salt, and/or soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon chili powder).

Consumers have incorporated the use of this type of sauces in a wide variety of dishes, trusting in their “original recipe”. There are preparations that are even offered as part of the family meal to infants and young children.

Our opinion about the Worcestershire sauce is that it is not suitable for daily consumption or for children or pregnant women because it contains an ingredient that has been called carcinogenic.

Due to its sodium content, it is not recommended in people with hypertension.

We would suggest using seasoning with natural ingredients or season with garlic, onion, and herbs.

If you have any comments or questions on the content please let us know. 


  1. Kloss, Loreen, et al. Sodium intake and its reduction by food reformulation in the European Union—A review. NFS j, 2015, 1, 9-19.
  2. Vollmuth, Thomas A. Caramel color safety–an update. Food chem toxicol, 2018, 111, 578-596.
  3. Zanfirescu, Anca, et al. A review of the alleged health hazards of monosodium glutamate. Comprehen rev food sci food safe, 2019, 18, 1111-1134.
  4. Holmes, G. Worcestershire sauce and the kidneys. Brit Med J, 1971, 3, 252.