November 12, 2020

Manufacturers Encouraged to List Sesame on Food Labels

There are eight major food allergens that must be listed on food labels according to the FDA: fish, milk, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, finfish, peanuts, and soy. But a substantial number of Americans are allergic to other foods and ingredients, including food dyes, mustard, and sesame. Now manufacturers are encouraged to list sesame on food labels by the FDA.

Manufacturers Encouraged to List Sesame on Food Labels

Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said, “While most products containing sesame declare it as an ingredient, there are times when sesame is not required to be declared by name on the label, such as when it is used as a ‘flavor’ or ‘spice.’ Other ingredients, like ‘tahini,’ are made by grinding sesame into a paste, but not all consumers are aware that tahini is made from sesame. In these instances, sesame may not be declared by name in the ingredient list on a product’s label. We are encouraging food manufacturers to voluntarily list sesame as an ingredient whenever a product has been made with sesame.

The FDA has issued a draft guidance today to encourage food manufacturers to voluntarily declare sesame on the ingredient list. About 1.5 million Americans, or about 0.1%,  are allergic to sesame. That’s about the number of people who  are allergic to soy or fish. Anyone who is allergic to any food must be able to quickly identify products that contain those allergens.

And the symptoms of a sesame allergy are similar to those of other food allergies, including wheezing, hives, vomiting, and anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act has strict requirements for ensuring that the food source of an allergen is listed on a label using its common or usual name. Many recalls are for foods where allergens are not listed on the label.

Comments

  1. Sandra Glantz says

    11-11-20
    This is wonderful news. My allergy to sesame began just four years ago, at age 61. Anaphylaxis ensues and an EPI PEN is needed if I eat sesame in even tiny amounts. To have this ingredient in BOLD LETTERS with the other eight allergens will make shopping for food so much easier. There are now many prepared foods that I must avoid, with sesame hiding in the “spices” category, or not. One can never tell, so those foods are not purchased, ever. Thanks so much for alerting people to this news.

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