Sesame Is Officially on the List of Major Food Allergens

The FDA says the addition has been in the works for a few years

Overhead view of a glass jar of sesame seeds with a wooden spoon
The tiny seed is getting called out
Getty Images/RooM RF

If you ever scan a nutrition label and see things like wheat and milk under the “contains” section, you’re going to start spotting a new ingredient in 2023. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sesame is now considered a major food allergen, and food manufacturers are required to start calling it out on the back of the package.

CNN says that the FDA has been debating whether to put sesame on the major allergen list for years and asked manufacturers to voluntarily put it on labels back in 2020. The small, flavorful seed joins eight other major allergens on the list: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, crustacean shellfish, fish, peanuts and tree nuts. Prior to the new law, the ingredient was often elusive. Labels only had to call out sesame if it was in the food as a whole ingredient, not if it was lumped into “spices” or “natural flavors.”

Although the law went into effect on January 1, 2023, foods that are already manufactured and/or on the shelves won’t necessarily have the sesame callout. “We remind consumers that foods already in interstate commerce before 2023, including those on retail shelves, do not need to be removed from the marketplace or relabeled to declare sesame as an allergen,” the FDA said in the statement. “So depending on shelf life, some food products may not have allergen labeling for sesame on the effective date. Consumers should check with the manufacturer if they are not sure whether a food product contains sesame.”

If sesame gives you a cough, itchy throat or one of the many other symptoms people with an allergy can experience, you still have to do your due diligence when it comes to meat, poultry and egg products, as well as alcoholic beverages, as the labeling law does not apply to those products. While we feel for the many people who can’t enjoy hummus, we’re certainly glad they don’t have to search high and low to make sure sesame isn’t creeping up in packaged foods.


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