Sesame fated to be labeled as an allergen by the FDA

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Sesame fated to be labeled as an allergen by the FDA

Related tags Food allergy Asthma Food

US Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut along with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts have asked the administration to require the ingredient be listed in the interest of consumer safety. 

The trio wrote to Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner of the FDA, with a request that sesame “be listed specifically by name on ingredient lists and that sesame be included in inspections for cross-contact,” ​according to an item on thewestonforum.com.

Personal experience
A few people personally familiar with the concern spoke with that publication. “This applies to lotions and cosmetics as well since many companies are adding sesame oil to their lines,” ​points out Lauren Solinsky, who is allergic to sesame.

Sesame oil indeed has a long track record as an ingredient in personal care and cosmetics. And now that consumer demand is high for natural and botanical formulations, it’s not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon.

“I am relieved that many manufacturers are starting to label for sesame on their own, but it is really confusing to keep straight which companies do label and which do not,”​ Solinsky adds.

Supporters cheer
Advocates in the allergy awareness space are, not surprisingly, supportive of the Senators’ letter. “Several hundred thousand Americans are allergic to sesame, and their allergy is no less serious and no less life-threatening than that of those allergic to peanuts, shellfish, or other common allergens,” ​Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney at The Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells the press.

“The Food and Drug Administration could easily protect these consumers by including sesame among the so-called Big 8 food allergens for purposes of labeling and education,” ​she asserts.

Beauty follows food
While such a labeling initiative would have the most obvious impact in the food industry, personal care labeling protocol could be significant as well. Ingredient trends and regulation initiatives often evolve first in food and subsequently in personal care.

Additionally, large beauty brands and US regulators do look to be following the example of stricter markets, including Canada, the EU, Australia, and others that (as MacCleery notes) do require labeling of sesame and sesame-based ingredients. So the FDA’s response to the Senators’ request will be worth watching. 

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