On Aug. 14, 2018, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Mendez met with Doug Ballentine, Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling (ONFL) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to voice our community’s concerns about the serious issue of sesame food labeling.
Sesame allergy ranks ninth in prevalence behind the top 8 allergens. But manufacturers are not required to clearly label sesame on their products. Sesame is often labeled under other or uncommon names such as “tahini” or “sim sim.” It can even go unlabeled under terms like “spices” and “natural flavoring.” This is very distressing as reactions to sesame can be among the most severe for adults and children.
What Can You Do?
AAFA’s meeting with FDA was productive. We talked about possible short- and long-term steps to address sesame labeling. But right now, the FDA needs more reports from the allergic community. We are asking community members who have had an adverse reaction to sesame, or care for someone who has, to fill out this form about the incident.
The FDA wants to hear about any serious reactions to sesame, whether or not sesame was clearly labeled on the product. We will then submit your reports to the FDA. The form will ask for:
- Your name and contact information
- Date of the reaction
- A detailed description of the reaction and product, including any codes or identifying marks on the label or container
- If emergency treatment was provided, the doctor or hospital who gave treatment
- The name and address of the store where the product was purchased and the date of purchase
- Any photos of product, labels, ingredient statement, lot codes, etc., if you have them, to help the FDA identify the product
- Information about the person who had the reaction
The need for labeling is clear. AAFA will keep working with the FDA until people with sesame allergies are able to safely make everyday food choices. Help us by submitting your story!