Sesame seed in a pile on a grey wooden table, with sesame oil in a bottle and a mortar and pestle.

August 2, 2023

The following is a statement from Allergy & Asthma Network on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) petition regarding sesame in food products:

Allergy & Asthma Network is disappointed in an FDA decision to reject a Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petition to ban food companies from adding sesame to products to get around a new federal law.

Food companies are required to label allergens in their foods and clean their production lines in order to avoid cross-contamination. But since the passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021, which adds sesame as the ninth major food allergen, some food companies have chosen to intentionally add sesame to their products that never had it before.

This puts people who are allergic to sesame at risk of severe or life-threatening allergic reactions.

Earlier this year, Allergy & Asthma Network joined with food allergy stakeholders in support of the CSPI petition to FDA. The petition discourages companies from adding allergens as a way of addressing cross contact risks. Our Director of Advocacy Charmayne Anderson represented the Network at a meeting with FDA and food allergy stakeholders on the issue and the petition.

While FDA decided not to ban the practice of adding sesame, the agency did, however, acknowledge that “this practice could make it more difficult for sesame allergic consumers to find foods that are safe for them to consume, an outcome that FDA does not support.”

Allergy & Asthma Network will continue to work with food allergy advocacy groups and other key stakeholders in urging FDA to ban this practice.