May 4, 2021—Are you living with a sesame allergy? Thanks to a new U.S. law, in less than two years, you may find it easier to find out which foods and products to avoid. That's something you need to know to stay safer.
The FASTER Act, signed into law April 23, adds sesame to the list of food allergens that must be listed on food labels starting in January 2023.
Why does that matter?
In the U.S., a growing number of people are allergic to sesame, which is now the ninth most common food allergy, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). (Other common culprits include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.)
Some people with a sesame allergy can have mild symptoms, like hives, if they eat sesame. But sesame can also cause a serious allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening without immediate treatment.
Where's the sesame?
People with a sesame allergy need to read food labels carefully to avoid it. But right now, that's not as easy as it sounds. Sesame seeds, oils and pastes can be found in a lot of different foods—including Asian cuisine, bagels, buns, breadsticks, soups, veggie burgers and more, according to experts. Sometimes the sesame in these foods is obvious—for instance, on sesame seed buns. But sometimes it goes by other names, like tahini. And sometimes a food label will only refer to sesame as natural flavorings.
The FASTER Act should help clear up things. But until then, you can use these tips to help you look out for sesame in foods and other products: