Allergic to Sesame? Food Labels Now Must List Sesame as an Allergen

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |

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Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “Contains” statement.
Example: “Contains sesame.”

Dark blue bag of chips with close up of ingredients label / contains statement.
"Contains" Statement

Sesame has always been required to be listed in the ingredient statement if it was an added ingredient, with a few exceptions. That’s true for any added ingredient. Now that sesame is a major food allergen, the FDA expects that it be specifically listed as sesame on the label if it’s part of another ingredient, like “natural flavor,” or “spice mix.”

Additionally, if a food package has a “Contains” statement and has sesame as an ingredient, sesame will now have to be included in that “Contains” statement. As a result, consumers will have more information about which products contain sesame as an ingredient.

The sesame labeling requirements apply to packaged foods. Allergen labeling requirements for foods that aren’t packaged may vary, like bagels in a grocery bin or bakery goods displayed on trays. If you’re concerned about those products, you may want to ask store personnel for food allergen information.

Why Did Sesame Become a Major Food Allergen?

Sesame became the ninth major food allergen through the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act, a federal law passed in 2021. The other eight major food allergens were defined through a federal law passed in 2004.

While many kinds of foods can cause allergies, the federal laws focus on the most common ones and require that food labels identify the food source of a major food allergen using its common or usual name on the label.

The nine major food allergens cause the majority of serious food allergic reactions in the U.S.

Additional Resources

  • Food Allergies, FDA webpage
  • Have Food Allergies? Read the Label, FDA Consumer Update
  • Food Allergy, NIH MedlinePlus

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