A new law requires that packaged foods made with sesame products list the product as an allergen on ingredient labels by Jan. 1, 2023.
With President Joe Biden's signing into law of the FASTER Act, sesame becomes the ninth allergen that must be labeled on packaged foods and the first new addition to the allergen list since 2004. The other allergens that must be declared are wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg.
The not-for-profit food-allergy advocacy organization FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) hailed the passage and signing of the FASTER Act, which also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue a report on opportunities in food allergy research, prevention and treatments. The law represents "a major victory for the entire food allergy community across the nation," FARE CEO Lisa Gable said in a news release.
Nearly 1.6 million Americans have a sesame allergy, FARE stated. Ensuring that labels declare sesame as an allergen is especially important given that sesame is often present in products labeled as containing "natural flavors" or "natural spices," according to the organization.
The FDA's website notes that the labeling requirement is met if the allergen's common name is included in a product's ingredient list (e.g., sesame oil). Otherwise, the allergen must be declared in parentheses following the name of the ingredient or immediately after/adjacent to the ingredient list in a "Contains" statement (e.g., "Contains soy, sesame").
Across the country, an estimated 32 million consumers—approximately 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 13 children—have food allergies, according to FARE's website. Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 9–15, 2021.