Regulatory Update: Sesame Allergen Labeling Now Required

Regulatory Update: Sesame Allergen Labeling Now Required

January 18, 2023

By Stephanie Schultz, ARC’s RD Ambassador to the RDBA

As of January 1, 2023, sesame is required to be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods, including dietary supplements.

RDBA first reported on this regulatory change in June 2021 after President Biden signed the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act (FASTER Act) on April 23, 2021, adding a ninth allergen to the requirement in food labeling and seeking various recommendations related to tracking and managing food allergens. 

The rationale for the decision to add sesame as an allergen was based on the fact that sesame allergies appeared to be increasing in incidence, and 25 percent of the allergic reactions were in cases where undeclared sesame was consumed. Consumers may not be aware of all foods that contain sesame, so allergen labeling now requires that sesame is obviously stated on all foods.

However, consumers with a sesame allergy need to proceed with caution during the transition period. Although the allergen labelling is officially in effect, it will take retailers time to go through inventory of items with old labels. Some packaged foods can have a long shelf life, so there is not a set timeframe for when pre-2023 stock will be replaced with foods containing updated labels. It is also important to remind consumers that a food product’s ingredients can be changed at any time, so it’s a good idea to check the label every time you buy the food product – even if you have eaten it before and didn’t have an allergic reaction.