It finally happened! Thanks to The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act that was passed in April of 2021, sesame is required to be listed as a major food allergen on food and beverage package labels. This change went into effect on January 1, 2023.
This blog breaks down the importance of this change, where you can now find sesame listed, and how it affects consumers.
Why it’s important to see sesame on food labels
The last time an ingredient was recognized in this way was in 2004, so this is not a common designation — which emphasizes the importance of this change. Recent studies show that 1.6 million Americans have reported an allergy to sesame, so this growing food allergy has proven to be increasingly prevalent.
This clear labeling makes finding sesame in a food product simpler, which in turn can help reduce accidental exposure and serious reactions. With food allergies, reactions can range from mouth itching and chest tightness to life-threatening anaphylaxis, so being able to simply find ingredients to avoid these reactions is critical.
Where you’ll see this change
This change is only required on food labels that are found on food products. Instead of having to decipher which ingredients may include sesame (think tahini, vegetable oil, certain seasonings), sesame will be clearly noted on labels. There are two different places it will be located, along with the other top 9 allergens:
- In parentheses following an ingredient that contains sesame
- For example: Tahini (sesame)
- In a “contains” statement at the end of an ingredient list
- For example: Contains milk, sesame, soy
Calling out sesame is not required on other items at this time — but you may notice some retailers now choose to highlight sesame on physical menus in restaurants, in online ordering apps, and more. Additionally, it may become more apparent on other items like beauty and household products.
How this affects you
Unless you’re a food manufacturer or a person with an allergy to sesame, this change may not impact you. But rest assured that this is another step in the right direction for the food allergy community, and those with an allergy to sesame may have a little more safety than they did last year.
If you or someone you love are impacted by sesame allergy, consider treating the cause with allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy) to create another level of safety in case of accidental exposure. Allergychoices offers a safe and effective treatment that slowly trains the body to not react to offending allergens. Find a provider near you who offers personalized allergy drop immunotherapy to get started.