Addressing comments in a blog post from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, about the agency’s role in implementing the FASTER Act, Kenneth Mendez, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), issued the following statement:
“We appreciate Dr. Califf’s remarks acknowledging the positive work of companies in the baking and restaurant industries to comply with new sesame labeling requirements that became effective in January of this year under the FASTER Act. We also applaud the FDA for taking a stance that it does not support the practice of manufacturers intentionally adding sesame to products just to comply with the FASTER Act when that product previously did not contain sesame.
“Sesame allergies impact more than 1.5 million Americans, half of whom are children. Before the FASTER Act, families with sesame allergies found it challenging to determine if sesame was in the products they were buying. Now families are struggling to find products without sesame as some previously trusted restaurants and brands have engaged in this dangerous practice of adding sesame.
“While this situation is disappointing, we are encouraged that the FDA is still actively trying to use its authority to resolve this issue. We hope the FDA will work with manufacturers, allergy experts, and consumers to find a solution. Consumers with food allergies need manufacturers to label clearly and engage in good manufacturing practices to reduce the risk of cross-contact with allergens.”
In a blog post published on July 27, 2023, Dr. Califf said that while some manufacturers are taking steps to make their products safe for consumers with food allergies, others have taken an approach that concerns the food allergy community and the FDA.
“At the same time, we have become aware of a practice with an outcome we do not support,” Dr. Califf says. “Some manufacturers are intentionally adding sesame to products that previously did not contain sesame and are labeling the products to indicate its presence. This keeps manufacturers in compliance with our law for disclosing the presence of a major food allergen, but limits options for consumers who are allergic to sesame.”
AAFA appreciates the efforts by the FDA to move forward and find solutions that, as Dr. Cailiff says, “could help consumers who are allergic to sesame find foods that are safe for them to consume.”
Kids with Food Allergies is the food allergy division of AAFA.
Do you manage a sesame allergy? Download Kids with Food Allergies’ “A Guide to Managing Sesame Allergy.” The guide includes information you should know, how to prevent reactions, ingredient list, chef cards, and more. You can also join our community to talk with other families managing sesame allergy.