The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require product ingredient disclosure include sesame as an allergen. The FDA currently requires milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy to be disclosed as part of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.
CSPI cites numerous food-allergy experts who consider sesame to be a leading emerging cause of severe allergy, affecting an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people in the United States. The ingredient can trigger life-threatening anaphylaxis.
The regulatory petition filed by CSPI asks that the FDA introduce sesame labeling requirements and raise awareness among restaurateurs and food service providers about the allergen. The Canadian government considers sesame to be a major food allergen and Canada, the European Union, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand all require explicit labeling of sesame-based ingredients.
"The 2004 law was an enormous advance for those who must avoid one or another common allergen to safeguard their health," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson in a release. "But an important gap remains. The FDA should act to protect consumers allergic to sesame."
The CSPI petition can be found here.