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    April 23, 2021

    Sesame Added As the 9th Major U.S. Food Allergen

    In April 2021, President Biden signed the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education & Research (FASTER) Act into law, which, among other allergen-focused provisions, established sesame as the ninth major U.S. food allergen. As a result, all foods entering interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023, that contain sesame must declare sesame as an allergen per the FALPCA regulations.

    This is a huge win for the consumers, advocacy groups, and dozens of legislators that have been working for years to have sesame added to the list. According to a study published in 2019 by the National Institutes of Health, approximately 1.1 million people in the United States have a sesame allergy.

    Sesame is often hidden in foods, making it challenging for consumers to identify. The FDA cites tahini as an example. In some ingredient lists, particularly those for Mideastern foods, manufacturers will list “tahini,” the common name for sesame seed paste, as an ingredient. A consumer who doesn’t know that tahini is made from sesame seeds could end up in the emergency room. In addition, some ingredient statements may list “spices” or “oils” that include sesame oil or ground sesame seeds in insignificant amounts that are exempt from labeling regulations.

    While the compliance date isn’t until 2023, the FDA has urged manufacturers to identify all ingredients that contain sesame right now. In November 2020 the FDA issued draft guidance to encourage manufacturers to voluntarily declare sesame in the ingredient list when it is used as a “flavoring” or “spice” or when the common or usual name (such as tahini) does not specify sesame.

    To assist with compliance, Genesis R&D Foods includes features for allergen tracking and label declaration. Check out this blog to more about the FASTER Act and How to Declare Sesame as an Allergen in Genesis R&D Foods.

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