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Sesame Allergy Sufferers Wanted Warning Labels. They Got More Sesame.

Sesame is a common ingredient in many foods and can go unnoticed in certain dishes, making it difficult for those with sesame allergies to avoid. This allergy can cause severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, making it critical for sesame to be labeled in all products containing it.

Unfortunately, for some time, sesame allergy warnings were not required by law in the United States. This meant that sesame sufferers had to rely on manufacturers to voluntarily label their products as containing sesame – a struggle for many people with this allergy.

In November 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would pass a new rule requiring sesame to be added to the list of allergens that must be labeled on packaged foods sold in the United States. The rule, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, is a significant win for those suffering from sesame allergies.

However, the story does not end there, as there is a twist. In February 2021, a study was published in JAMA Network Open revealing that after the FDA’s announcement, the level of sesame used in packaged foods increased significantly. The study analyzed the ingredient lists of 17,000 foods, including both new and reformulated products, and found that the amount of sesame added to foods had risen by nearly 50 percent.

While the new law was intended to improve the labeling of sesame in foods, the opposite effect occurred, as more sesame was being added. Additionally, sesame continued to be absent from some products that previously contained it, indicating that manufacturers were using more sesame in products that did not require labeling under the new rule.

The increased use of sesame in packaged foods is concerning, as it puts consumers with sesame allergies at greater risk of accidental exposure. The risk is especially high for children, as they may not know how to read labels or understand the potential danger of consuming a food containing sesame.

In conclusion, the new FDA rule requiring sesame to be labeled in packaged foods was a significant step forward in protecting consumers with sesame allergies. However, the subsequent increase in sesame usage in packaged foods shows that manufacturers must prioritize labelling and food safety, rather than finding loopholes to maximize profits. It is essential for consumers to remain vigilant and read labels carefully, as the amount of sesame in packaged foods continues to rise.

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