Jan. 4, 2023 -- The federal government has added sesame to its list of major food allergens, which already includes milk, eggs, peanuts, and other dietary staples.

The change, which went into effect Jan. 1, means that foods containing sesame must follow regulatory requirements on labeling and manufacturing. It was part of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act that was signed into law in 2021.

Sesame can cause allergic symptoms including coughing, vomiting, wheezing and drops in blood pressure, CNN reported. 

The Food and Drug Administration has considered adding sesame to the list of food allergens for several years.

Jason Linde of Food Allergy Research & Education told CNN that 1.6 million Americans have a “life-threatening sesame allergy” and that it is in dozens of ingredients but isn’t always listed by name.

“For years, (people) with a life-threatening sesame allergy would have to look at the back of the label, call the manufacturer and try to figure it out,” he said. “If it was included, it was just included as a natural spice or flavor.”

The new law “is a huge victory for the food allergy community,” Linde said.

The FDA said: “We remind consumers that foods already in interstate commerce before 2023, including those on retail shelves, do not need to be removed from the marketplace or relabeled to declare sesame as an allergen. So depending on shelf life, some food products may not have allergen labeling for sesame on the effective date.  Consumers should check with the manufacturer if they are not sure whether a food product contains sesame.

Show Sources

FDA: “FDA Reminds Manufacturers of Effective Date for Sesame as a Major Food Allergen”

CNN: “Sesame joins the major food allergens list, FDA says”

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