By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
Sesame seeds are used in many products from being sprinkled
on burger buns to being ground into sesame seed paste, which is also called
tahini. Approximately 0.23% of children and adults in the United States are
allergic to sesame and have reactions to sesame ranging from hives to
anaphylactic shock. Until now, sesame was not one of the major allergens that must
be named in plain language on the ingredient labels of processed foods. On
April 23, 2021, President Biden signed a law making sesame the ninth major
allergen that must be listed clearly on the ingredient label of foods. The
other major allergens are milk, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts,
peanuts, and soy.
All products that
use sesame seeds or items derived from them will have to be explicitly labeled
after January 1, 2023. Passage of this law will make it easier for those
with a sesame allergy to identify products containing sesame. Currently,
according to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), consumers may see
terms like benne seed, tahini, gomasaio, halvah, tehina, and sim sim on
products containing sesame. In approximately 18 months, these products, and
others containing sesame will have to have a statement on the label that
indicates the common or usual name of the major food allergen followed by the
food source in parentheses in the list of the ingredients. For example, the
ingredient label for packaged hummus containing tahini, would say “tahini
(sesame).” The manufacturer could also add “Contains sesame” although this is
Warren CM, et al. Prevalence and severity of sesame allergy
in the United States. JAMA Network Open 2019;2(8)e199144.
Food allergy advocacy win: the president signs the FASTER
Act and makes sesame a major allergen. Kids with Food Allergies. https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/blog/sesame-allergy-and-food-allergy-research-supported-by-faster-act.
April 23, 2021.