In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people having anaphylaxis due to sesame. There are a number of theories behind this, including the rise of plant-based and vegan foods, many of which contain sesame as a main ingredient.
Due to the higher number of people who are allergic to it, the FDA has announced that sesame will now be added to the list of major food allergens as of 1st January 2023.
All of the products on the list, which contain other serious allergies including eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy milk, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish, are subject to food allergen regulatory requirements which affect manufacturing and labeling requirements.
Adding sesame to this list comes as a result of the “FASTER Act”, also known as the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act, which became law in 2021.
Sesame allergies can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, drops in blood pressure, a rash or hives, swelling in the lips, tongue, mouth, throat, or around the eyes, vomiting, coughing, an itchy throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Under the previous recommendations, sesame needed to be declared on a label if whole seeds were used, but not if it’s included as a flavor or a spice blend.
It’s estimated that over 1.5 million people suffer from a sesame allergy in the US and it’s hoped that this change will provide more clarity with labeling that will enhance safety, especially for those with a sesame allergy that is severe or life-threatening.
“We remind consumers that foods already in interstate commerce before 2023, including those on retail shelves, do not need to be removed from the marketplace or relabeled to declare sesame as an allergen,” the FDA said in a December 15 statement.
“Depending on shelf life, some food products may not have allergen labeling for sesame on the effective date. Consumers should check with the manufacturer if they are not sure whether a food product contains sesame.”