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What the FASTER Act means for food producers and sesame-allergic Americans?

For years, there has been chatter of additions to the list of major food allergens. Now, with President Biden’s signature on the FASTER Act, sesame has become the 9th major food allergen in the US. While manufacturers have until January 1, 2023 to comply with the regulations, draft guidance already exists for those food producers who wish to get an early start on compliance.

Studies show that sesame allergy is approximately as common as tree nut allergies in the US; sesame allergy can appear at any time (including adulthood); it’s unlikely that someone who develops a sesame allergy will outgrow it in time. By requiring manufacturers to clearly label any sesame knowingly included in food items — and to carefully monitor for accidental sesame cross-contact in foods that should be sesame-free — the FASTER Act will help keep this population safe. It also has promising implications for food allergy research.

While Emport LLC does not currently offer a sesame-specific allergen test, we are here to help our customers figure out how to expand their current allergen control plans to incorporate sesame. The FDA has published guidance on sesame allergen, which is a very helpful first resource for anyone who works with sesame or has vendors or suppliers who work with sesame. As of 01/01/23, a few key points to consider:

  • Sesame can no longer be covered under a descriptor like “spice” or “flavor” on an ingredient list. 
  • Rules will apply to whole sesame seeds as well as sesame paste, sesame oil, and any other sesame by-products. They will also apply to spice blends that commonly include sesame, for example gomasio, za’atar, or dukkah. 
  • In limited situations, general protein testing can be a suitable way to confirm that your working surfaces and/or rinsewater are free of sesame allergen. In other situations, an allergen-specific test will be better.
  • Our partner lab offers same-day results for allergen ELISA testing, including for sesame; contact us for details.

As always, Emport LLC will be here to update as new information becomes available. We invite you to contact our team to discuss this new addition to your allergen control plan whenever is convenient for you.

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