Pro Tip: Accommodating sesame on allergen labeling requires coordinating with production and ingredient suppliers.
The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act was signed into law in April 2021. Under this Act, sesame becomes the ninth major food allergen in the United States.
By the compliance date of January 1, 2023, manufacturers will need to denote the presence of sesame in their food products the same way they currently do with other major allergens. This seems simple enough but there are a few things that manufacturers will need to consider.
First, don’t plan to phase in the labeling over time. While this seems like the easiest way to handle the addition of an allergen, you should consider that once consumers see sesame being called out on your food labels, they will most likely believe that you have addressed the sesame allergen for all of your products.
In addition, once you have started labeling, you will need to have your food safety protocols updated and in place. Sesame may be difficult to control in some environments and you may need to make some major changes in production. This could include removing sesame as an ingredient or using a third party to manufacture those products that contain it.
Also make sure your ingredient suppliers have the latest information about sesame in their ingredients. Do they realize that sesame can be hidden in collective naming such as “spices” or “natural flavor”? They will need to investigate and document all these types of listings.
Also, ensure that your suppliers are educated on the possible other names that might be used for sesame such as benne, gingelly or til.
Start the process now by investigating your ingredients for the presence of sesame. This information will help guide you with your food safety and labeling decisions, while maintaining compliance.
Elaine Meloan is the manager of food labeling at AIB International.