Since 2004, the FDA made it mandatory for all food labels in America to inform their customers, in plain language, if there is any presence of the top eight allergens in the product. This mandate is called the “Food allergen labeling and consumer protection act” and went into effect January 1, 2006. The top eight allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. For years, sesame allergens have been on the rise and people are urging the FDA to include sesame as one of the major allergens. According to CNN, it is suggested that more than 300,000 Americans are affected by sesame allergens and it is the most common allergen following the top eight.
By adding sesame to the major allergens list, it requires manufacturers to claim the presence of sesame in plain English in their packaging. Since sesame is an ingredient that is often hidden in sauces and dressings, this would be extremely beneficial for those who are affected by this allergy. Currently, only 14 of the 22 major food manufacturers identify sesame in their packaging (according to Healthline).
Common foods containing sesame are hamburger buns, breadsticks, soups, crackers, dressings, marinades, hummus, dips, etc. Those who are affected by a sesame allergy often avoid a wide variety of foods due to not knowing which food has sesame hidden. Being that is the most common allergy after our top eight, it is no surprise that other countries have already declared it a major allergen. Canada has included it in their top 11 and the European Union has declared it one of their major 14.
People affected by a sesame allergy are asking for it to be included as a major allergen. This will greatly reduce the risk of ingesting a food that is harmful for them and allow for more awareness throughout the country. Multiple food allergy groups have stood up in support of adding sesame to the list of major food allergens including FARE and are urging the FDA to take notice.
Those with a food allergy in America depend on proper labeling to eat safely. With over 300,000 Americans affected, it might be time to add it to the list of major allergens! Sesame allergens are not new to everyone’s radar. In 2010, allergic living called it an “allergen to watch” and in 2014, we wrote a blog on prevalent allergens outside of the top 8. The demand is strong and it will be interesting to see if sesame really will be considered one of the major allergens in the USA.