Even though it is a new year, the FDA reminds us that sesame has now been added to the list of major food allergens. In December, the FDA noted that sesame had been added to the list of major food allergens due to the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) act. There are eight other food allergens besides sesame: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
Sesame seeds have been on the FDA’s list of ingredients since at least 2020 when the FDA asked manufacturers voluntarily to add them. Sesame seeds had to be listed before as a whole ingredient, but not as an ingredient or flavoring.
Jason Linde, senior vice president, explained to CNN the FASTER Act means life will get better starting January 1, 2023, for the 1.6 million Americans with sesame allergy. It used to take years for people with a life-threatening sesame allergy to read the back of the label and contact the manufacturer.
The FoodAllergy.org website notes that sesame allergies range from mild to severe, and reactions are unpredictable. The FDA wants to remind consumers that sesame seeds can still be found unlabeled despite the law.
Consumers do not have to remove food already in interstate commerce before 2023 or relabel them to declare sesame an allergen, it adds in its statement. There may not be allergen labeling for sesame on some food products depending on shelf life. If a product contains sesame, consumers should check with the manufacturer.”
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America stressed that this labeling, and all allergen labels, “only apply to FDA-regulated products.” It does not apply to alcoholic beverages regulated by the Treasury nor to meat, poultry, and egg products supervised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In both cases, allergen labels are voluntary, creating confusion for consumers.”