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Thea Bourianne

By: Thea Bourianne on November 18th, 2020

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Sesame Is On The Way To Becoming The 9th Big Allergen Requiring Disclosure

According to Healthline, more than 1.5 million Americans may have a sesame allergy with 1.1 million children and adults diagnosed with one.

Back in October of 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement about the concern of growing sesame allergies in the U.S. That concern has grown over the past two years, leading the FDA to issue a draft guidance encouraging food manufacturers to voluntarily declare sesame in the ingredient list on food labels on November 10th, 2020 and the House of Representatives to pass the The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act of 2019, H.R. 2117 on November 17th, 2020, declaring sesame the ninth big allergen along with egg, fish, milk, peanut, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) making labeling for it mandatory and by expanding research to find new treatments. Having been passed by the House of Representatives, the bill now heads to the United States Senate for consideration.

At Label Insight, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of products containing sesame, increasing risk for consumers with this allergy. Of the more than 425,000 active food and baby food products in the Label Insight database, 10,000-plus products include ingredients containing sesame, such as tahini, sesame seed buns, and sesame paste, etc. This number is up from 8,000-plus in 2018. However, over 160,000 additional food products could possibly contain hidden sources of sesame in the form of added flavors and spice blends where sesame is not currently declared today.

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Sesame, like all other allergies and ingredients, can potentially be added and removed from products in our foods at any time. As sesame popularity continues to grow, the FDA is encouraging brands to understand which products contain sesame and disclose that information to consumers. Get ahead of this emerging allergen and start disclosing sesame because as the House Of Representatives has already shown, sesame is already on the way to becoming the 9th big allergen. The greatest concentration of products that contain sesame is within the dip, bread, snacks, and cracker grocery aisles; however, products across the store contain sesame ingredients, including personal care, cosmetics and pet products as shown in the chart above, and 30 additional OTC Medicine products, and 24 vitamins and supplement products. 

If you’d like to understand which of your products contain sesame, please reach out to our Subject Matter Experts for your product data audit.

About Thea Bourianne

Thea Bourianne, MBA, RD, LDN is a licensed and registered dietitian based in Chicago. Specializing in nutrition, US and international food regulation, and food composition makes her uniquely positioned to work strategically with global CPG and retail clients to build data-driven, customer-centric solutions. In her current role at Label Insight, a SaaS company that provides insights on food label data, Bourianne supports retailers, CPG brands, US government, technology companies, researchers, and other entities by crafting and applying high order attribution to products in-store and online. Bourianne is passionate about safe, transparent, sustainable, wholesome products and strides for best-in-class customer experiences to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Prior to working at Label Insight, Bourianne’s previous positions have included product development, commercialization, fresh and frozen food manufacturing, and regulatory affairs with companies and clients such as Taco Bell Corp., Wilton Brands, Starbucks, Ahold, Walgreens and 7-Eleven, among others.