On November 24, 2020, just two days before Thanksgiving, Food Equality Initiative signed on to a letter directed to Steven Hahn, Commission of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration. This letter was written in reply to the FDA’s proposed “Voluntary Disclosure of Sesame as an Allergen.” In this letter, Food Equality Initiative joined 12 other food allergy advocacy organizations to stress the necessity of requiring sesame to be added to the list of top allergens in the United States.
Citing research by Dr. Ruchi Gupta and many others, sesame allergies are on the rise. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans have a sesame allergy. Approximately one third of those individuals visited the emergency room in 2019 due to a severe allergic reaction.
In our current state, sesame is not required to be listed on ingredient labels clearly and concisely. Often it is written under different names on food labels (such as simsim or til) or sesame is simply included in the broader categories of “spices” or “flavoring.”
The letter reads, “The current lack of sesame labeling threatens health and creates barriers for consumers. We strongly urge FDA to initiate rulemaking to mandate sesame labeling without delay.”
So far, the bill requiring the addition of sesame to food labels has passed in the House of Representatives. It has since been passed onto the Senate. Just recently, it passed in the Senate, but included a few revisions. Now it is on its way back to the House for yet another round of approval. If it passes in its current form, then it will go to the president for final approval, which hopefully will finally establish it into law.