President Biden has signed into law a new food allergy bill requiring that sesame be labeled on all packaged foods beginning January 1, 2023 and that food allergy research be given greater priority by the federal government. The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act passed in the Senate in early March and in the House last week.
The law designates sesame as the ninth food allergen for which FDA requires plain-language labeling, joining dairy, soy, wheat, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Sesame is often used when a label reads “natural flavors” or “natural spices,” adding another layer of difficulty when consumers review product labels. This is the first time since 2006 that a new allergen has been added to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.
The legislation also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a report on scientific opportunities in food allergy research that examines prevention, treatment, and new cures. In addition, the legislation establishes a risk-based scientific process and framework for designating additional allergens covered by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Nearly 1.6 million Americans are allergic to sesame.