An important bill in Congress adds sesame to the list of major allergens that must be declared on a food label.
Currently, only eight allergens - milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy - are listed on food labels. Allergens not on that list - such as sesame – are sometimes called non top-8 allergens.
The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 (HR 4061) would make sesame the ninth allergen regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition, the act will increase the amount of information people receive when they read a food label. If passed by Congress, the act will also make labels easier to read.
Any food is capable of producing a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. About 300,000 to 500,000 Americans are allergic to sesame. Finding sesame in foods can be tricky. It may hide in “natural flavors” and “spices".
"People with a sesame allergy have to call food manufacturers to find out if the product is safe to eat," said Lynda Mitchell, the Senior Vice President of Community Services at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Manufacturers will have to start labeling for sesame immediately after the bill becomes a law. The FDA will then have up to three years to create final regulations about “the manner in which sesame might be disclosed,” according to a summary of the bill.
The bill also phases in a requirement that major allergens be listed on a sign adjacent to nonpackaged foods sold in stores - for example, at a supermarket deli counter. Such foods are currently exempt from current FDA labeling requirements.
Other parts of the bill include:
- Improving the information on the nutritional facts panel and making labels easier to read.
- Listing the caffeine content in foods with at least 10mg caffeine per serving.
Please tell your members of Congress to support this legislation and ask your friends and family to do the same!