By Allergen Bureau

Mandatory sesame labelling in the U.S. moves one step closer

The U.S. Senate has passed the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act. As the Senate bill has slightly different wording from the bill that passed in the House of Representatives a few weeks earlier, there must now be a vote in the House on the slightly amended version.

Once the House and Senate resolve any legislative differences between their versions and pass the agreed-upon bill, it will be sent to the US President for signature into law. However, with the current session of Congress ending in January 2021, time is critical.

The FASTER Act proposes:

  • Collection of national information on Americans’ exposure to food allergens and prevalence of food allergies for specific allergens;
  • Updated allergen labelling laws to include sesame and add new labelling requirements for additional allergens as new scientific evidence emerges;
  • Expanding current guidance on patient experience data to include food allergies; and
  • Studying the economic costs of food allergies.

The latest step comes soon after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance for the voluntary labelling of sesame, and as a result of intense of advocacy by individuals, consumer groups and other organisations. There are an estimated 1.5 million Americans with sesame allergy, yet labelling for the presence of sesame in foods is not yet mandatory under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Lobbyists, including consumer group FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) maintain sesame must be recognized as the ninth top allergen and must be labelled.

More information can be found in a media release from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.