New Law Requires Sesame Label on Food Packaging

2021-06-25

Foods that contain sesame must indicate that on the packaging by January 1, 2023, according to a law signed this spring by President Joseph R. Biden. The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021 also mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services report on scientific research opportunities to prevent, treat and cure food allergies.

The law officially makes sesame the ninth major allergen, joining milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy as foods that must be noted on packaged foods. This marks the first time a new allergen has been added to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) since 2004. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the new law will benefit 85 million people who are affected by food allergies, thanks to the broader focus on research.

Research published in 2019 in JAMA Network Open found that more than 1.5 million Americans have a sesame allergy, more than five times the previous estimate. Sesame is often used when the ingredients simply state “natural flavors” or “natural spices,” according to FARE, which can make it difficult for consumers who are looking to avoid the ingredient.

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