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The FASTER Act: Sesame Is the Ninth Major Food Allergen

en español (Spanish)

The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act identifies sesame as the ninth major food allergen. As of January 1, 2023, sesame must be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods and dietary supplements. If you or your family members are allergic to sesame, this important change will help you quickly identify foods that contain sesame.

Not All Food Products Will Have New Sesame Label Right Away

It will be some time before all food products with sesame have the updated label. Food products already on their way to or on store shelves before 2023 don’t have to be removed from the market. So, not all food products will list sesame as an allergen during this transition period. If you have a sesame allergy, closely read food labels. If you are still not sure whether the food contains sesame, contact the food product’s manufacturer or distributor.

Sesame joins eight foods that are already considered major food allergens by federal law. The nine major food allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish, like bass, flounder, and cod
  • Crustacean shellfish, like crab, lobster, and shrimp
  • Tree nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame

Sesame Allergy Labeling Requirements

Sesame has always been required to be listed on food labels as an ingredient, with a few exceptions. This is true for any added ingredient. Now under the FASTER Act, packaged food products that contain sesame must declare the ingredient as an allergen on their labels. These food products must also declare sesame as an allergen if they have an ingredient made from sesame. This helps the public know which products contain sesame.

Sesame allergen labeling may appear on packaging in a few ways:

By its common or usual name in the ingredient list:

Example:
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, sesame seeds, potato starch, flax seeds, olive oil, amaranth, quinoa, salt

FASTER Sesame Allergen Label

OR

In a “Contains” statement immediately after or next to the list of ingredients:

Example:
Ingredients: Potatoes, canola oil, spices (sesame, wheat), salt, garlic powder, sugar, natural flavoring
CONTAINS: Wheat, Sesame

FASTER Sesame Allergen Label

OR

In parentheses following the name of the ingredient in the ingredient list:

Example: Tahini paste (sesame, canola oil), water, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt

FASTER Sesame Allergen Label

Tips for People Allergic to Sesame

While the FASTER Act went into effect in January 2023, it may take some time before all food products with sesame have the required label. During the transition period, you still may find food products for sale that do not list sesame as an allergen on the label. If you are allergic to sesame, here are a few tips to stay safe during this time:

  1. Always check the ingredients on a food product’s label, even the foods you usually buy.
  2. If you are not sure if a certain food product contains sesame, contact the food manufacturer or supplier. They can help you learn more about the use of sesame in their food product.

Caution: Foods You Normally Buy May Now Contain Sesame

Some food manufacturers have recently changed their recipes since the FASTER Act went into effect. There are now food products with small amounts of sesame that did not have it before. Remember to always check the ingredients list and the “Contains” statement before purchasing or consuming products.

If you or your family members are allergic to sesame:

  • Ask a restaurant staff member about the ingredients in the food.
  • Check the ingredient list on food products in the grocery store. This can help you find out if the recipe has been changed and if sesame has been added.

Help Spread the Word

You can help make sure that everyone knows about the FASTER Act and sesame labeling. Find sample social media posts, newsletter copy, and more in the social media toolkit.

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