The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a request for information (RFI) on the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies in the United States to inform possible regulatory action that would require sesame to be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods.
Currently, sesame is not required to be disclosed as an allergen, and in some circumstances, sesame may be exempt from being listed by name in the ingredient statement on food packages.
An ingredient that contains a food that is not a major food allergen may only be listed by its common or usual name and not always declare the name of the food source. In the case of an ingredient list declaring “tahini,” the source of the ingredient, sesame, is not included as part of the name listed in the ingredient statement. In addition, spice mixes, flavors, and colors used as ingredients can be labeled generically without stating individual ingredients. Incidental additives derived from foods that are not major food allergens that are present in food at insignificant levels and do not have any technical or functional effect in that food can be exempt from labeling requirements. An example is vegetable oil transferred from food production equipment.
As part of the RFI, the FDA is also asking for input on the prevalence of sesame-containing foods sold in the U.S. that are not required by law to disclose sesame in the ingredient list on food packages. The agency also wants to know about possible costs of any future regulatory action FDA might take regarding sesame disclosure for foods.
The comment period opened on October 30, 2018, and will remain open for 60 days.
According to the institution, the FDA is committed to advancing its efforts to help ensure that Americans have access to the information they need about common allergens in packaged foods. In particular, the undeclared presence of allergens in foods – the leading reason for food recalls – continues to be a significant public health issue and an area of active policy consideration by the agency.