KANSAS CITY — As a major allergen, sesame has become a potential nightmare for high-speed bun and roll bakeries, especially companies that operate single-line plants. That’s because those pesky sesame seeds, typically applied after proofing, are prone to blowing off during baking and hide in the oven or fall into the conveyor during slicing and packaging.

Not only do bakeries need to focus on precisely controlling the application of sesame seeds, but they also need to double down on sanitation. It only takes a stray sesame seed or two to sneak into a bag of plain buns, and that could prompt a recall.

“Sesame is the elephant in the room,” noted Nathan Mirdamadi, senior food safety specialist, Commercial Food Sanitation, an Intralox company, during the recently held American Society of Baking’s technical conference. “It’s definitely going to be a problem, especially for bun bakers.”

Mr. Mirdamadi pointed out that most high-volume bakeries rely on hundreds of feet of belting that may be difficult to clean after sesame seeds are applied to baked foods. He suggested that bakers must first figure out how to make each piece of equipment allergen-free, then develop a process to efficiently clean them properly.

The potential time and labor to do such deep cleaning are major points of concern. That downtime is potentially devastating in highly efficient bakeries that operate just one production line with multiple product changeovers each day. Not every bakery has the luxury of moving allergen production to a dedicated line in a separate part of the bakery or to another facility.

Look for sesame to become the hot topic of discussion in the months to come.