Tough New Labeling Law for Sesame Prompts Companies to Add It to Their Products
THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Call it a good idea that seems to have backfired: A tough new labeling law that requires even the smallest amount of sesame be listed on food products has instead spurred some companies to add it to their products.
The new federal law goes into effect on Jan. 1, adding sesame to the list of major allergens that must appear on food labels when they are present in the product. Allergens that have appeared on labels since 2004 are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans, the Associated Press reported.
Food allergen labeling advocates have sought to add sesame to the list of major allergens for years. But the new requirements are so strict that it costs less to add sesame to food products than to try to keep it out of those that are not meant to contain it, the AP reported.
To follow the law, companies must label foods that contain sesame or follow safety measures to keep it from getting into foods through shared equipment and supplies. “It’s as if we’ve suddenly asked bakers to go to the beach and remove all the sand,” Nathan Mirdamadi, a consultant with Commercial Food Sanitation, which advises the industry about food safety, told the AP. Some foods that contain sesame are not surprising. It appears on top of hamburger buns, for example. Yet, it also is a hidden ingredient in items like sauces, dips, salad dressings, spices, ice cream, and protein bars.
“Sesame is in so many things that people don’t really understand,” said Ruchi Gupta, M.D., director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research at Northwestern University in Chicago. Gupta told the AP that the move to add sesame to products is “so disappointing.”
Cases of sesame allergy have been growing and now number more than 1.6 million people in the United States. In Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, sesame has appeared on food labels for years, the AP reported.