The One Food Allergy No One Seems to Talk About

1.5 million Americans experience adverse reactions to sesame

The Lempert Report

More than 1.5 million Americans experience adverse reactions to sesame every year. 

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not include sesame on its “Top 8 Allergens” list, which requires food manufacturers to list any of the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies.

Sesame shows up in all kinds of foods, from beef jerky to candy corn, writes the New Food Economy. And more people are allergic to it than ever before. It's up from 0.1% of the population to 0.49% in less than a decade. 

Sesame can be easy to miss on an ingredient label. That’s because it does not have to be listed under its common name. It can fall under the category of “spice” or “natural flavor” on a package, or it can be listed with an unfamiliar name like gingelly oil, til oil or tahini.”

In July, Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law HB 2123, which amended Illinois’ Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require that any packaged food list the presence of sesame on its label. For its part, the FDA has not commented.

Since Pritzker’s legislation, there have been other efforts to add sesame to the big eight, making it the big nine. One such effort was the Food Labeling Modernization Act (FLMA), which was initially introduced to Congress in 2018 by Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone from New Jersey and Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut. But neither the House nor the Senate advanced the bill. 

Europe has required sesame labeling since 2003, when France announced that 1.5% of its population was allergic to the ingredient.


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